In the News
Story by Bob York
It’s obvious the moment you step into Jack Arena’s ’79 office: Everything’s about his players.
A pair of Sid Watson Awards, honoring the two National Div. III Player of the Year recipients Arena has mentored during his 40 years as a hockey coach at Amherst College, immediately catch your eye. Then there are the nine plaques paying tribute to four players and five teams that were NCAA Div. III Statistical Champions during his reign. Behind his desk, eight other plaques serve as accolades for former players who earned All-American status.
“I’ve never been one to make a big deal of personal accomplishments,” says Arena, a former three-sport standout—football, hockey and baseball—for the Mustangs.
That, “despite my family’s dismay,” is why you won’t find even a hint of Arena’s personal successes in his office—unless you ask to see the evidence.
There’s no clue that Arena is one of the most successful men’s college hockey coaches ever. In fact, the closest indication that he notched his 500th coaching victory last December is an Amherst game jersey folded across the back of a chair with the number 400 on it, which was presented to him 100 wins prior. Those 500 victories make Arena the fourth winningest active Div. III coach in the country, and—counting Div. I programs—28th overall.
Two large glass vases on the floor near his desk are his two National Div. III Coach of the Year Awards (2012, 2015). Over on his bookcase, buried under other mementoes, is the 1983 Hobey Baker Award he received as the nation’s Outstanding Div. III Player following his senior sea- son at Amherst. On an adjoining shelf, amid more souvenirs, lie his two NESCAC Coach of the Year plaques (2009, 2012).
As for championships, the seven banners hanging from the Orr Rink rafters have those covered: two ECAC champion- ships (1992, 1996), three NESCAC titles (2009, 2012, 2015), and two NCAA Final Four appearances (2009, 2015). In total, during Arena’s tenure, 18 of 22 graduating classes have qualified for at least one NESCAC title game since the tourney began, in 2000.
Though it’s been nearly a half-century since Arena competed for the Mustangs, “I still remember the passion I had for hockey and baseball…and I enjoyed playing them equally,” he says.
He played them equally well, too. And although admitting the only highlight of his Milton career he really remembers “was scoring my 100th point in my final hockey game,” others remember Arena’s heroics. His senior year he earned All-Independent School League laurels in all three sports and was named to the Quincy Patriot-Ledger All-Scholastic Team in all three as well. Arena then capped his Milton career by winning the Saltonstall Medal as the school’s top athlete.
Winning the Hobey Baker Award not only celebrated a glorious past in which Arena scored 140 points during his Amherst career, but it also proved to be an omen for the future. Five months after winning the honor, his fairy tale continued by being named the Mammoths’ head coach.
“I originally received a fellowship to stay on as an assistant coach,” he explains. “Then, when the head coach left in the spring, I was asked to be interim head coach. As the season approached, however, the AD couldn’t find anyone he liked, so he asked me if I was interested in being the head coach.
“I said yes; 40 years later, I’m still here,” adds Arena, as a huge smile breaks across his face.
Bob York is a freelance sportswriter from Greenfield, Mass., whose work can be found in the New England Prep School Athletic Council Magazine.
Acts of rebellion and resistance in American social movements have received vastly different responses from police and mass media—according to the race of the the protesters—since the foundations of the country, this year’s Heyburn lecturer, Elizabeth Hinton, told Milton students in November.
Hinton, an author and Yale professor who researches poverty, racial inequality, and urban violence in the United States, described the history of Black protest movements and their characterization as “riots,” even when they were peaceful in origin. To understand the disproportionate response to Black social movements, she said, we have to look at the history of policing in America and its roots in racial oppression.
The inaugural TEDxMiltonAcademy event filled King Theatre with ideas about belonging, health, climate, identity, and psychology, as six speakers from the Milton community shared carefully crafted and passionate talks on subjects of their choosing.
Benjamin Siegel ’24 had the idea to bring TEDx to Milton after attending a TEDx conference years ago. Siegel, along with Bea Becker ’25, Grace Grady ’23, and Alexa Burton ’24, organized the September event, licensing it through TEDx and soliciting applications from potential student, alumni, and faculty speakers. Together, they narrowed the speakers to six.
“Tonight is about community,” Siegel said as he introduced the event. “We were inspired to put on this event to shine a light on all the talent, creativity, and knowledge in the Milton community. Milton is full of people with diverse backgrounds and inspirational stories, some of which we bring to the stage for you tonight.”
The school’s Alumni and Development and Student Activities offices supported the student organizers with funding. A TEDx event provides a platform for ideas within a local community and an opportunity to share them more broadly, Siegel said.
TEDxMiltonAcademy featured talks from three alumni: Cecilia Guan ’18, who discussed the psychology of a “beginner’s mind”; Michael Kennedy ’01, who shared ideas for involving low-income stakeholders in clean-energy solutions; and Katherine Walker ’02, who spoke about finding humanity as a physician in a pandemic-stricken intensive care unit. Two students, Nika Farokhzad ’23 and Scarlett Eldaief ’24 spoke about the need for comprehensive, national sex education and about the complexities of Middle Eastern/North African identity issues, respectively. English Department faculty member Kristine Palmero shared her story of donating bone marrow and the connection she forged with the recipient.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors had to work even harder to honor the humanity of their patients, many of whom were hooked up to lifesaving machines and were isolated because hospitals prohibited visitors, said Walker, a pulmonary and critical-care doctor at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. She described holding phones so that families could say goodbye to dying patients. Still, there were moments of profound hope.
“In the ICU, we have to focus on what we can do for each patient in front of us each day,” she said. “One day, I held the phone up to a man’s ear as he was recovering from COVID. He had just come off the ventilator. When his wife called, I explained to her that he was too weak to talk, but I’d hold the phone up anyway. In a hoarse voice, he immediately whispered, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,’ over and over again. What a privilege it is to witness love in this way.”
TED (which stands for technology, entertainment, and design) is a free media organization that shares “ideas worth spreading” via short videos of speeches from subject-matter experts. TEDx talks are licensed through the organization and can be hosted by any group. Milton’s talks will be shared through the TEDx YouTube channel.
Defeating Kimball Union Academy 3–1, Milton’s boys’ hockey team won the 57th annual Flood-Marr Tournament in December.
The tournament is named for Dick “Lefty” Marr and his college roommate, longtime friend, and rival hockey coach Dick Flood. Lefty Marr was a member of the Milton faculty from 1957 to 1980. The three-day competition for boys’ teams includes Milton, Nobles, Hotchkiss, Andover, Westminster, Deerfield, Kimball Union, and Salisbury.
Girls’ varsity hockey made an impressive showing the same weekend in the 41st Harrington Invitational tournament, getting to the championship round for the first time ever. The girls faced off against Nobles, Lawrence, St. Paul’s, St. Mark’s, BB&N, Westminster, and Williston-Northampton. They ultimately lost to Williston-Northampton, placing second.
Upper and Middle School students enjoyed a visit from poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil, the fall’s Bingham Visiting Writer, who told them, “Wonder is when you’re learning and it makes you smile.” She spent time in classrooms with creative-writing students and shared some of the work from her collection World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments.