ALBANY The state Capitol served as a Hall of Champions Wednesday, as the Division I national champion Union College men’s hockey team was the headliner among local sports programs being honored by legislators.
Representatives from the hockey team, including coach Rick Bennett, came to Albany to be recognized by both the state Assembly and Senate.
The day was the latest in the whirlwind for the team that included a parade through Schenectady that followed Union’s 7-4 win over Minnesota April 12 in the NCAA title game in Philadelphia.
“As a staff we are taking it all in stride,” Bennett said. “We are just happy to honor our school.”
Junior Mark Bennett said he and his teammates are still not done processing the enormity of winning a national title.
“Not even close,” he said, walking from the Assembly over to the Senate for a second ceremony. “It still hasn’t sunk in. It’s like ‘Why are they having this again?’ ”
The moment had extra resonance for Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, a one-time Union College basketball star.
“I’m not sure you realize how proud you made former Union athletes,” he told the team outside of the Assembly gallery. “We live vicariously through you.”
Later, from the Assembly floor, he added, “The Capital Region has had a great year with its student athletes and teams.”
Championship teams passed each other in the halls, and all wanted to be pictured with the NCAA trophy and shake hands with the Dutchmen players who attended the ceremony. The Schalmont High football team, the Class B state runner-up recognized Wednesday, posed on the interior Capitol steps with the Union team. The Hoosic Valley basketball team, waiting to enter the Assembly chamber and be honored for it’s Class C state title, exchanged high fives with the hockey players as they departed.
There is still no timetable for when the Union team would visit the White House. “That matter is currently proceeding through the proper political channels,” sports information director Eric McDowell said.