May 20, 2013

Q&A With Crusader Of The Year Brandon Nunn

Hockey player reflects on his past four years and winning Crusader of the Year.

By Kelsey Horton
Special to GoHolyCross.com

Holy Cross senior men's hockey player Brandon Nunn (Fairport, N.Y.) was recently named  the 2012-2013 Crusader of the Year. This honor is awarded to the athlete who demonstrates success both athletically and academically, and who exhibits active leadership in the Holy Cross community.

Nunn excelled on the ice over the past four years, posting 39 goals and 30 assists for 69 career points. This year, he scored a team-best 16 goals and had 11 assists for a career-best 27 points. He tied for second on the team in points. His 0.55 goals per game were tied for first in Atlantic Hockey and 10th nationally. Nunn was able to maintain a 3.67 total grade point average as an Economics major, consecutively earning himself Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team honors. He is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, a Jesuit honor society in which only 4% of the class is selected that honors students who embody the Jesuit values of Scholarship, Loyalty, Leadership and Service. He also works with the school's Endowment Fund.

On top of his commitments as a student-athlete, Nunn started the Power Play Points For Pink fundraiser for breast cancer. Through donations and sponsorships, every power play goal scored at Crusader home games raised money for Pink Revolution. The organization's mission is to support early detection and prevention strategies, fund clinical research advancements and promote survivorship programs in Central Mass. through its affiliation with the UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center. This past season Power Play Points For Pink was able to raise over $18,000. Nunn has also took part in Crusaders for Kids, a big brother type of program set up by the players to bring inner city kids to other sporting events on campus as well as in the community.

Recently, Nunn talked to GoHolyCross.com about his four years at Holy Cross and on winning Crusader of the Year.

GoHolyCross: How did you come up with Power Play Points For Pink? How rewarding has it been for you?

Brandon Nunn: My first two years here our team did several things in the community, but with so much time dedicated to hockey and school work, it was difficult to get involved. I thought that it would be a great idea to find a way to give back while doing something we loved - playing hockey. Since we had several team members who had family members affected by breast cancer and since our team and school had already worked together with Pink Revolution, I thought it would be a perfect partnership. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have met many women with inspirational stories and it is a great feeling knowing that this project will help play a small role in helping other women and their families battle breast cancer. The project took on a whole new meaning for me this year as my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last spring. Thanks to this project, the women I had met gave me comfort and confidence that my mother would be able to overcome her illness. My mother's strength and perseverance were amazing attributes that I admired as she fought to overcome her adversity.

GoHolyCross: How do you raise donations and pledges?

Brandon Nunn: To raise donations and sponsorships, we went around the Worcester community looking for any businesses that wanted to get involved. Many parents and family members of the men's, women's and club hockey teams also have made pledges and donations. People can pledge per home power play goal or can make one-time donations. This year, Bay State Savings Bank became our main sponsor, donating our Pink the Rink jerseys and heading a Facebook fundraiser during the month of January. We raised over $10,000 due solely to those two events combined.

GoHolyCross: How frustrating was it missing eight games in your last season? What did you do while you were out?

Brandon Nunn: Missing eight games in the middle of my senior season due to a shoulder separation was extremely frustrating. I had gotten off to a hot start and our team had been playing well. Being one of the senior leaders on the team, sitting in the stands and knowing that you can't do anything to help your team win is a very helpless feeling. However, it made me realize how much the game of hockey and Holy Cross Hockey meant to me. I made sure I rehabbed every day and tried to ride the bike as much as possible to stay in the best shape I could, because I knew that I didn't want to have any regrets and that I needed to make a big impact when I returned to the ice.

GoHolyCross: How were you able to successfully balance your athletics with academics?

Brandon Nunn: In order to successfully balance my academics and athletics, I needed to have not only a great work ethic, but good time management and organization as well. I think that attending prep school at Milton Academy really helped make the adjustment into college relatively easy. Some people don't realize that playing Division I hockey is basically a full time job and prep school prepared me very well to be able to handle the rigorous academic curriculum while dedicating so much time to hockey throughout the course of the entire school year.

GoHolyCross:  How did you choose to play for Holy Cross?

Brandon Nunn: I was recruited to come here by Coach Pearl. The coaching staff was great and I knew that I wanted to play for them. I also realized that I was probably not going to the NHL and that I needed to receive a top notch education to put to use for when I was done playing hockey. From the first time I set foot on campus, I loved the sense of community here on Mount St. James and knew that it was a great balance of academics and athletics. Essentially, it was an easy decision for me to come here as Holy Cross provided the best of both worlds.

GoHolyCross: In what ways have you grown as a player since your freshmen year?

Brandon Nunn: I have grown a lot as a player over the past four years. As a freshman, making the transition from playing center to left wing was difficult for me. I had a lot of skill and was a solid offensive player, but I struggled in the defensive zone and especially with all of the work along the walls that wingers have to do. Coach Pearl worked a lot with me on those facets of my game and I developed into a guy who was dependable in all three zones of the ice, played on the power play and who could kill penalties as well.

GoHolyCross: What has it been like winning all these different awards this year? How did you find out about winning Crusader of the Year and what was your reaction?

Brandon Nunn: Winning these awards has been quite an honor, but to be honest, I'm not the kind of guy that likes the spotlight. I get much greater satisfaction from helping my team win a hockey game or hearing the incredible stories of women who have battled breast cancer. I would trade in all of these accolades in a heartbeat for one more chance to win a championship. Coach Pearl called me into his office and Mr. Regan, the athletic director, came in and told me that I had been chosen as the Crusader of the Year. I was shocked. There were so many worthy candidates and to be selected was quite an honor. To be in the elite company of the past recipients is truly amazing.

GoHolyCross: What are your plans for after graduation?

Brandon Nunn: I am going to play professional hockey after graduation. After that is over, I plan to enter a career in the financial services industry. I am grateful that Holy Cross has prepared me to succeed in all aspects of my life and I am excited to see what the future will bring.