September 8th, 2015

The NESCAC’s men’s hockey teams put their on-the-ice differences aside last year to change the face of men’s health.

United We Mo: NESCAC Hockey
The NESCAC’s (New England Small College Athletic Conference) men’s hockey teams put their on-the-ice differences aside last year in the name of changing the face of men’s health. Together, the ten teams that make up the league recruited 229 Mo Growers to raise $26,253.

While many of the teams had previously participated independently over the years, 2015 marked the first time the league put together a united front.

Recognizing that the league was a tight-knit community, Pat Arena, Brendan Burke, and Adam Ellison of Amherst College decided to use the power of their collective networks to take their campaign to the next level.

Arena recalls, "We were easily able to get in touch with friends from the other nine teams. Everyone was familiar with the cause, and when we suggested a friendly competition everyone was excited."

Movember has long preached the “safety in numbers” philosophy and some friendly peer-pressure went a long way towards recruiting participants that had previously shied away from the campaign.

"I had been aware of Movember for quite some time, but due to my inability to grow respectable facial hair, I had decided not to get involved out of shame for my barely visible whiskers. That changed when I was contacted by my friend and former high school classmate, Adam Ellison," stated Johnny Malusa of Bowdoin.

As the month progressed, the student athletes realized that the moustache allowed them to become walking, talking billboards for men’s health and they were able to raise vital funds and awareness without straying too far from their daily routines.

"Each member of our team makes a conscious effort to incorporate the Movember campaign into our daily conversations with others, hoping they will join the campaign and assist in changing the face of men's health," said Wesleyan's Rob Harbison. "Every person you inform about Movember, each dollar that is donated, and each conversation you have makes a positive impact on the Foundation."

Perhaps most impressive about the league’s efforts was the ability to keep the focus on the bigger picture throughout the month. "We weren’t really competing against each other. Rather, we came together by communicating and sharing ideas about how to raise as much money as possible for this great organization and cause," said Arena. 

Mike Flynn of Trinity College added, "this type of competition is very different from on the ice because we know we are pushing each other to contribute to something that is bigger than hockey. Certainly, we want to raise the most money, but regardless of the outcome, we know it's going to a great cause. That is the most rewarding part." 

A number of players commented on the desire to make the NESCAC Movember Challenge an annual event and hope to build on the momentum they created to establish a tradition of friendly competition in the name of men’s health.

That being said, it’s hard to deny the correlation with Movember fundraising and on-the-ice performance. The top two fundraising teams in the NESCAC network, Amherst ($9,635) and Trinity ($4,550) went on to advance to the Division III Final Four hockey championships with Trinity capturing their first National Championship in the program’s history.

If that doesn’t speak to the power of the moustache, we don’t know what does.

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