By: David Woeltz ~Staff Writer~
Xavier Hockey’s season came to an end last weekend in the program’s first trip to the ACHA Division III Atlantic Regionals. Xavier fell 4-2 to California University of Pennsylvania in a hard-fought matchup that saw the Musketeers concede an empty net goal in the closing minutes.
In a season that brought Xavier Hockey to its highest ranking ever at No. 9 in the Atlantic Region, one victory came outside the rink. ESPN anchor John Buccigross, who recently donned a Xavier hockey jersey on SportsCenter, gave Xavier’s senior captain Dar Faroughi a one-semester scholarship of $10,000 to cover the difference in tuition and financial aid.
A conversation with a stranger at a sports bar outside of Columbus led Buccigross to first get involved with the Faroughi family.
Buccigross had been looking to give a scholarship to a club hockey player for a while, and it was by chance that he walked into O’Nelly’s Sports Pub & Grill near the Faroughi’s home after calling an Ohio State hockey game for ESPN. Faroughi’s father recognized Buccigross and struck up a conversation with him.
Buccigross finally found a hockey player and a family he could help so he exchanged numbers with Faroughi’s father. The next day, he received a text from Buccigross and this random encounter turned into a scholarship for his son.
“Buccigross always said club hockey is college hockey,” Faroughi said in an interview about the scholarship. “He wanted to reward a club hockey player because they don’t have the chance to play Division I. It’s much harder to play D-1 hockey than D-1 basketball because there aren’t as many D-1 programs. He wants to support the players that don’t get as much exposure.”
The scholarship meant more to Faroughi than helping with the financial burden of student loans.
“It’s humbling because there are 400 teams in the ACHA and thousands of players, and I was lucky enough to be the first one [to get a scholarship],” Faroughi said. “I’ve gotten tripped about it a few games, but it really is special, really humbling for me and my family.”
John Buccigross was able to give back to the hockey community that he already greatly contributes to. Currently, he is considering giving a scholarship to a different player every year. Club hockey players have to make many sacrifices to play, and Faroughi is no different. “We miss a lot of stuff,” Faroughi said.
“We don’t get to go and party every weekend because we’re driving five hours through snow or something to go play hockey. It’s expensive too, but we do it because we love to play. That has something to do with hockey players’ personalities. We’re very competitive people and we don’t want to give up the dream. We all still think we can play in the show some day, but obviously we can’t.”
Next season, Xavier’s “Blue” team will have to replace its captain Faroughi as it move up to ACHA Division II, while its currently unaffiliated “White” squad will move to Division III.