For more than three decades at the Charlestown Rink on any given Sunday at noon during the hockey season, there is a fraternity of former Charlestown Youth Hockey (CYHA) players huffing and puffing up and down the ice, reliving their youth for that one special hour each week.
This fraternity of players known as the “Alumni” are from different age groups, as well as a wide range of professions, but share one common goal and one common bond; to skate for that one hour, have some laughs, some hacks, give each other grief and thank God they survived another week. The common bond that each player shares is that they are all from the same family, the Charlestown Youth Hockey family.
Each player grew up in the CYHA program, played high school, with many playing in college as well as a few who played professionally. The other bond that exists is that each player gives back to youth hockey more than what they received. Whether in Charlestown, or any other community in eastern Massachusetts, there is not a rink that you will not see a former member of the Charlestown Youth Hockey Association on the bench coaching and teaching youth hockey players in the communities they now reside. At home in Charlestown, they continue to give back financially which has allowed many to play who may not have been able. This is where Tommy Bryson stood tall and made his biggest save.
Each year at the end of the season, Bryson always broke the house rule which states that everyone pays except goalies. Goalies always skated free in exchange for receiving errant slap-shots off the head, breakaways, dekes and fun loving abuse that made any goalie look foolish. In exchange for this abuse, forwards and defensemen covered the weekly fee to skate each week for expenses associated to ice costs, and the season ending “break-up” party, which may be a story for another day. The remaining funds were then donated to the CYHA program. Bryson was always more than generous and his financial contributions exceeded the bumps, welts and bruises he received every Sunday morning. Quietly without fanfare, Bryson would make his annual generous donation to help a program so near and dear to him.
Tommy Bryson, a very important member of our beloved fraternity, passed away 18 years ago playing the sport he loved. In memory of Tommy Bryson, each year the “Alumni” award a scholarship to a goalie in the CYHA who exemplifies the many wonderful qualities that are dearly missed of Bryson and his drive to succeed on the ice as a goaltender.
Recently after Bryson passed, a new resident to Charlestown walked into the rink and asked if we needed a goalie as he played at Wesleyan University and would love to play. He instantly became a member of our fraternity. Paul Raymond joined the ranks and became part of the CYHA Alumni and embodied their philosophy of giving back. Paul and his cousin, Mike Geragosian, an acclaimed goalie coach, have teamed up to donate a one-week goalie camp scholarship to the recipient in Tommy Bryson’s name.
Raymond has since married and moved out of Charlestown, but always answers the phone when his fraternal hockey brothers’ call and he continues to donate the goalie camp scholarship. The CYHA Alumni are very thankful to Paul Raymond and his family for their continued generosity and want him to know that he will always be a part of this fraternal brotherhood and is welcome back anytime to lace them up.
This year’s recipient of the Tommy Bryson Memorial Award is Andre’s Jay, the goaltender for the Charlestown Youth Hockey AA Squirt team. Andre’s attends the Dexter School where he also plays goalie. Last year he shared the net with three other goalies at the Squirt level, and according to his coaches, he has made a solid transition into a very committed goaltender that works hard at the position and continues to improve his skills by attending both CYHA in-house goalie clinics as well as outside training programs.
Past winners of the Tommy Bryson award are Henry Peirce, Erin Alves, Sophie Landrum, Sean O’Halloran, Pat Owens, John Richard, Brennan Carrier, Isaiah Emma, Emma Hamilton, Daniel Landry and Sonny Fazio. Each recipient receives a replica of the Tommy Bryson Award and their name is added to the trophy on display at the Charlestown Rink. All scholarship winners receive tuition assistance as well as the goalie camp scholarship. The Charlestown Hockey Alumni are very grateful to CYHA for their help in keeping Tommy Bryson’s memory alive through this award and for making this scholarship into what it has become today.