From the moment Mason Tiday took the ice this year, Matt Fitzgerald and the entire Cumberland Valley coaching staff knew they had made the right decision to slap that A on Tiday’s chest.
The senior assistant captain has not gone without enduring a lot of hardships as a player.
His sophomore season, the Eagles went just 3-15.
His junior season was basically a competitive wash because of Covid.
And now, throughout his senior season, he has played on a younger, inexperienced, albeit a little immature, team, but that has not stopped him from showing up to practice and games ready to give it his all every day.
“During dryland sessions, he is very much a teacher to his peers,” Fitzgerald said. “The players look up to him. I can only speak to him in terms of his interactions with people on the ice, but I do know that he made a point to take guys under his wing. He is more than a teammate, but also a friend and someone who seems like a genuine person and friend to his peers.”
Through all of the seemingly negative things Tiday has gone through as a player, however, he has always been one to keep his head held high. He wears the A on his chest with great pride, and he knows that he is looked at in a different light because of it.
“It gives me a voice on the team, and I tried to use my voice as much as I could throughout the season,” Tiday said. “We were a younger, undeveloped team who could get disfocused before a lot of our games, and wearing that A gave me a big responsibility to deal with that. The job of the three captains is to be in the right mindset to win the game.”
That’s exactly what Tiday did every single game. He went into each game with the mindset that he was a leader on the team, and everyone is looking up to him to get them prepared for games.
He helped will the team to a 10-8 record. After a 3-15 season the last time they played competitively, that is nothing to scoff at.
Tiday knows that the team would not be where it is at today without Fitzgerald, and he has always been so appreciative of his coach.
“I’ve had the same coach all four years in my high school career, and I was lucky to have him,” Tiday said. “He is a motivational speaker, and he was just always there for me when I needed it. I am really appreciative of that.”
Fitzgerald has helped Tiday both on the ice and off, and that is probably why the level of play that Tiday showed throughout his four years as an Eagle is completely unmatched, but also why he is on a true road to success no matter what he does after high school.
He had a mentor to look up to, and he is grateful for that.
More than that, he is also grateful for his team. While some of the things he mentioned before may sound negative, he has truly enjoyed this team, as they have made his senior year enjoyable.
“They just made it fun,” Tiday said. “I would actually look forward to practice and in the locker room, which is rare in practice and with a travel team. Everyone got along really well this year. The underclassmen were really nice kids and I hope I was a good role model to them.”
Tiday is hoping to keep in touch with them for as long as he possibly can, which truly speaks volumes and shows they had just as much of an impact on his season as he had on theirs.
Tiday is truly a team player who appreciates his coaches, his teammates and his parents for playing vital roles in his hockey career, and he will now get a chance to possibly cap it all off by winning the CPIHL Justin Yingling Memorial Award.
All of his achievements both on and off the ice are recognized just by being a finalist for this award, but being able to win it would be a huge honor for him.
“He’s just a really, really incredible kid,” Fitzgerald said. “How seriously he takes his position as a senior and a leader is amazing, and it made the nomination semi-easy on our end.”
Not only has Tiday been an incredible four-year player for Fitzgerald, but he has been a leader that he and the rest of the coaching staff have been able to count on all year long. They knew that he was always going to show up and give 100 percent effort every time he hit the ice, and Fitzgerald knows the coaching staff and the school would remiss not speaking highly of him and showing their appreciation for Tiday.
Players like Tiday do not come around every day, and Fitzgerald believes they are truly lucky to have had him on their team the last four years, and winning the award would be the true icing on the cake.
You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter
There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.