I’ve Loved These Days

Chris Lerch
Mar 26, 2016 · 5 min read

After 20 seasons behind the mic as one of the radio voices of RIT Hockey, I’ve decided to hang up my broadcasting skates.

The travel and time commitments have become harder to manage recently due to family health issues, demands of my main job as the IT Director of a large nonprofit human services agency (which is the best job I’ve had in my career) and just plain old age.

When the weekends during the hockey season take more out of me than the work week, I know I’m doing it wrong. I often feel like I need a weekend after my weekend.

As the saying goes, “Die On Empty”. And I’m nearly out of gas.

I thought about retiring after the final game from Ritter Arena in 2014, but I wanted to broadcast from RIT’s new rink, the Gene Polisseni Center.

At the end of last season, I almost stepped away, but again decided to keep going, because I really love bringing people the games, I love the guys I broadcast with, and I love RIT.

Our new digs at the Polisseni

But as this season went on, I began to wonder if I should have gone out on a high note at the end of 2014–15, with the Tigers making the NCAA Tournament and pulling off another stunning postseason upset.

So as the final horn of this year’s Atlantic Hockey championship game sounded, sending the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament (in Albany no less, site of some of my favorite broadcasting memories during RIT’s amazing run to the 2010 Frozen Four) I saw that as a sign.

It’s time. After more than 20 seasons and 500 games, 71 rinks in 18 states (plus D.C.).

It’s hard to step away. I have had the best seat in the house for so many memorable moments in RIT Hockey history. I was a student and a fan long before I was in the pressbox. Too many memories to recount here but this sport, this school, this team has brought me more joy than I could possibly give back.

My vantage point for most of the last 20 years at the venerable Ritter Arena

So as I move on, I have so many people to thank, and it starts with my first broadcasting partner, Randy Bloechl, who retired in 2009 after 27 years behind the mic.

Randy Bloechl and me in the Lynah Rink (Cornell) pressbox

Randy taught me that if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. And we had loads of fun and told lots of stories to ourselves and the audience, broadcasting everywhere from dumpy town rinks to hockey cathedrals.

I’m looking forward to sitting next to Randy in the stands of the Polisseni Center , and doing our broadcasts again, a version for just the two of us. Our real broadcasts always had that feel anyway. We were trying to first and foremost entertain each other, and our audience seemed to appreciate that.

And then there are the guys still at it: Ed Trefzger, who’s been there from the beginning, and Scott Biggar, the rookie of the group with “only” nine years as one of the regular broadcasters. Between us, we’ve got something like 70 years experience as writers and broadcasters, voters in national polls, and one of us is a current member of the Hobey Baker Award committee. I’d put us up against anyone in the business.

Smart and articulate, they have been my friends, my teammates, my brothers.

Ed, Scott and me after the final game at Ritter Arena

Thank you to the students at WITR for all your help both sharing the mic with me and behind the scenes engineering the games. Your enthusiasm has energized me more times that I can count.

To all the RIT coaches, especially Wayne Wilson, who’s been here for 17 of my 20 seasons: You’ve taken us to places beyond my wildest dreams. I am so proud to have been associated with your program.

The same goes to the Sports Information Directors, faculty advisers and people in athletics. Always top-notch.

Thanks a ton to the players and their families. It’s hard enough to be a student at RIT much less excel at a Division I sport, and I am amazed at these smart talented kids and what they can accomplish. A lot of the credit goes to their parents. I’ve loved hearing from parents and it’s been an honor to share what’s happening when you can’t be at the game. Thank you.

And speaking of families, people are often cynical when someone says they’re stepping down to “spend more time with their family”. But that’s what I’m doing. After 25 years of marriage, I want to spend as much time as possible with Kathleen, who has done an amazing job taking the lead in caring for the boys and my aging parents. My mom is still with us, but at 90 she continues to face health challenges, as do other family members. I’m grateful to them for allowing me to be away so much during hockey season. But now it’s time to stay closer to home year round.

This was Kathleen’s idea. Really.

And finally, to everyone that’s listened to RIT Tiger Hockey over the years: you’re the best. It’s been a privilege to bring you the action, the highs and lows (many, many more highs), the terrible puns, the complaining about the officiating, the random cultural references.

You’re one of the best fan bases in college hockey, and I’ve seen a lot of them, from Minnesota to Maine. Bleed orange forever.

Best. Fans. Ever.

I guess that’s it. I’m not going away entirely — I’m going to remain the Atlantic Hockey correspondent for U.S. College Hockey Online (uscho.com). I hope you’ll continue to read, and if you’re not, I hope you’ll start. I’m covering my 21st Frozen Four this season.

I’ll remain on social media, commenting on college hockey, especially the Tigers. I’ll also try to keep my website current with stuff I’m working on.

But the most direct communication, the most personal, has always for me been the radio. Thanks for welcoming me into your homes, your cars, your laptops, your headsets in the rink. It’s been a blast to share the excitement. I’ve loved these days.

God Bless and Go Tigers!

This beam is now high atop the Polisseni Center.

Chris Lerch

Written by

Dad, husband, tech guy, hockey broadcaster, writer, musician. Director of IT for Heritage Christian Services. Voice of RIT Hockey. Senior Writer for USCHO.

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