Monday, March 14, 2011

Parent Submitted: Rob Gunderson (Sr.)

A Parents Perspective on UAA
I feel compelled to state my opinion of our son’s situation – in the fall of 2010 he began his NCAA experience as a Freshman Goaltender with the UAA Seawolves. My motivation is from two directions, one of extreme gratitude and another of distaste for others historical opinions of the UAA program in general.

Why he picked UAA
As with all of us adults, Student Athletes also have choices to make that will affect their entire futures. Depending upon their athletic level, they can be inundated with numerous colorful packages and inviting words from many NCAA Institutions. This was the situation our son found himself in during the 2009/10 year. 

Being slightly well-versed in separating fact from fiction, I thought the ‘sifting’ process would be a good role for me to take in this whole affair. We received many ‘packages’ from teams who had obviously spent a fortune on advertising aimed at lighting up a young man’s eyes and hopefully luring them into, what appeared to be, the the best place on earth to go to school and play NCAA hockey. 

So what did we do?…we waited….. UAA was the first program to actually ‘talk’ to us and that meant two things to me. Firstly, UAA were interested enough to take the time to put the personal touch to their recruitment process and, secondly, they were actual people of whom we felt very comfortable asking questions and they were forthcoming with answers. 

Definitely, the coaching staff and the administration support in the UAA program are second to none that we have had any dealings with. That is a powerfully encouraging statement for a parent to make because, as parents in these situations, we have to entrust our most precious resources to the care of other people. Believing whole-heartily in the people and systems available to your child is simply a great feeling as you watch them board the plane to leave on this adventure.
Were we wrong?
This is a good question. One would think, judging from all the negative opinions of the UAA hockey program that we had made a bad choice. Unfortunately, the people who get the press usually have no idea what they are talking about and their opinions are based on something else someone said sometime in their life. 

My recommendation guys…..Do your research;  become informed, we did and we made the best choice!! …..We were fortunate enough to have a couple of great connections to the program to use as resources when doing our initial research. I called a friend named Dan Urness. Dan and his wife Murphy, who is a native Alaskan, met while he was playing for the Seawolves (he started in 1970 and is one of Brush C’s best friends). Dan was our next door neighbor when Rob was born but, at that time, we didn’t know he would play a role in this decision at all. 

Dan speaks glowingly about the program and has just retired from teaching, made possible by his Education Degree from UAA.  As a side note: Dan has driven back and forth from Southern Alberta to Alaska 37 times in his life and suggests that it is the most beautiful drive anyone can take. Also, Rob had played with Jade Portwood during his Brooks Bandits days in the AJHL and Jade had moved on to UAA. So, Rob phoned Jade in Victoria and asked him his opinion of the program before making his decision. Jade said “Gundy, you would have to have rocks in your head not to come here to this program”. 

So, now, our son has literally ran up and down mountains while training with his team this season, he has preempted me on Skype to check out the Salmon splashing up the creek behind his dorm. He has seen Moose several times right on campus and has experienced Alaskan hospitality and traditional food. One simply cannot buy this type of adventure while going to school anywhere else.  Enough said…………The players/students love the people, the program, the environment and the school (probably in that order)!! But do the parents?
“I may never go to Alaska”
Until parent weekend in February of 2011, I doubted that I would ever go to Alaska. Interestingly, I have two, first-cousins in the Anchorage and Homer area and had never been to that part of the world. We came up for parent weekend looking forward to a dark, cold place with tons of snow – oops! 

First Impressions - Alaska could be the most beautiful place on the face of the earth!! If you have not been there…Go!! This was the dead of winter and I was completely in awe of my surroundings. Rob had said he couldn’t believe the environment when he arrived in the fall and I just thought “yah, he’s young”. But, for lack of a better word…WOW!! and everything that goes with that. 

Parent weekend was awesome, what a bunch of great people, the blueliners, the boosters and the long time fans. It gave us a chance to talk with all the coaching staff as well and, I am pleased to report that they are still the same. Imagine that! They have not changed since the first time we talked with them a couple of years ago and that, my friends, is the essence of a genuine person – a person you can count on and not have to wonder if there is some underlying agenda. If at all possible, we will be attending all the parent weekends while our son is with the Seawolves and we are already planning to get to Alaska this summer as well. My new prediction is “I might just stay in Alaska someday”.
For anyone who is thinking about an opportunity to play NCAA Div 1 hockey in the best league that  amateur sport has to offer, I suggest doing your research on the UAA program and everything it has that others simply cannot reproduce. I believe I can speak for all the parents of this batch of UAA hockey players when I say that the fanciest arenas and sparkly city lights cannot begin to provide anywhere near the experience that the UAA program can.
This has been an unpaid advertising for UAA Hockey, completely unsolicited from an obviously amateur writer and I stand by every word.
-Rob Gunderson (Sr.)-


Donald Dunlop said...

Allow me to thank Rob here for this excellent article which he was concerned was too long. It isn't. My thanks also for his support of my blogging and helpful interactions over the course of the season.

I am privileged to have corresponded with and met many parents and siblings over the course of my blogging. I only haven't met more because of my laziness. I will correct that next parent's weekend.

Thanks again Rob, I will reference this article more than a few times in the future I'm sure.

UAAalumni09 said...

Now that is one amazing article

Neil said...

Very nice post from Mr Gunderson. Thanks so much for the nice things you've said about our program. We know that many hockey players really love it up here just by the fact that they choose to make it their home upon the end of their hockey career. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. I couldn't agree more with what he said.
Good luck to the boys this week!!!! G0 SEAWOLVES!

Anonymous said...

There's not a lot of written work that moves me, but this got a lump stuck solid in my throat.

Thank you, your wife and Gundy for picking UAA!!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Thats makes me proud to have been a longtime Seawolf Hockey Fan.
Thanks Rob Sr. for your observations about UAA Hockey, the coaches and the fine people here in Anchorage. We are so glad that your son picked UAA to play his collegiate hockey, he is a Fan favorite already as a freshman. We are looking forward to watching him grow as a Man and a player.

arcticfox said...

Thank you Robbie's dad for sharing your incredible words with Donald! ♥ ♥ ♥

Every hockey publication in existence gave UAA the most dismal of possible outcomes for this season citing that ..."both of their lead goalies are freshman!".

As it turns out, there's not one UAA fan that would trade our goalies for anything!

I hope when you visited the Sullivan Arena you were able to hear the "Seawolf Thunder" (drum team) doing their (((GUNDY))) chant. Insanely loud, but boy do they have the Gundy chant down pat! :D

You should visit those relatives of yours in Homer during halibut season. Anchorage is gorgeous, but that drive down the Seward Highway is absolutely stunning!!

Thank you again Mr. Gunderson! ~~~~ ♥

Jimjamesak said...

"So, now, our son has literally ran up and down mountains while training with his team this season, he has preempted me on Skype to check out the Salmon splashing up the creek behind his dorm."

I will say that, having done interviews with Rob this season, I find this to be totally believable and can totally see the look on his face...

Suze said...

Thank you Mr. Gunderson for such a moving letter. I often wonder how the players parents feel about UAA, and now I know.

I agree with Donald, your letter was NOT too long, I devoured every word of it. I could tell those words were sincere and came from your heart.

Thank you for sharing your son with us. We fans have kinda "adopted" Robbie and the rest of the players!

Anonymous said...

what a great letter.. so cool to hear from the parents of these amazing athletes

Wolfman said...

Wow...great letter...I am so proud to be a UAA alumni even down here in Louisiana. UAA has offered me so many opportunities! I am a USAF retired Major and so proud to be a Seawolf Alum. Mr. Gunderson, thank you for that wonderful letter. you have inspired me more than you know!

BTW, there is a great article for incorporating Ice in the new arena on campus in the on-line addition of the ADN today.

Go SEAWOLVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Donald Dunlop said...

Ahhh .. the Eric Tuott Compass piece. Eric was kind enough to give me a preview of this late last week. I hadn't checked the Compass section yet today so thanks for noting it Wolfman.

I'll put up a post reprinting it late tonight or early tomorrow.

Donald Dunlop said...

Here is a link to the ADN Compass piece referred to above

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gunderson,

Thank you, from ALL Seawolf fans. Robbie is now one of our boys as well.


Matthew Oathout

Alaskana said...

Mr. Gunderson, thanks for sharing your personal views with us fans of the Seawolves program. I think Robbie has a great future with this team and was greatly impressed with the skill & ability he has demonstrated so far. As you noted it can't have been an easy choice for a talented player such as Robbie to choose from among all the schools that tried to woo him, but I think he made the right choice in coming here to the great land to represent the Seawolves.

Best wishes & much success to you and your son.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done Senior. It was nice to hear you speak kindly of our coaching staff. Maybe some people...myself included, will think before they criticize our coaches or the team in the future. Come up and enjoy AK in the summer sir, 4 years can blow by before you know it. Mike

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