Since the start of his time in college, Albertus Magnus senior defenseman Ryan Herpy has liked a challenge.
The Chagrin Falls, Ohio native committed to a Falcons program that was being built from scratch. Herpy was among a group of all freshmen on the NCAA Division III school’s first men’s hockey team in 2019-20, and it didn’t take him long to get comfortable in his fresh surroundings in New Haven, Conn.
From his first season onward at Albertus, Herpy was often found volunteering as part of his team’s community service initiatives. He has grown in that off-ice role ever since, and it led to him being one of this season’s five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award.
Herpy was already immersed in community service by the time he finished playing junior hockey. The sport was just a conduit, though, through which he did something he would’ve had inspiration for anyway.
“It came from my parents,” Herpy said. “They’re pretty generous with their time and their resources. They’ve funded some high school ventures, and I’m making myself out to be kind of a nerd here, but I was in drumline and stuff like that, and I know they supported things like that and also our school’s theater and website programs.
“We did stuff in high school, small projects, and as I got into junior, I realized how small the world ultimately is. I very quickly realized how many resources I had at my disposal, and it felt only right to give back.”
As a freshman at Albertus, Herpy and his teammates created a toy drive for Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, supplying gifts for kids receiving treatment there over the holidays. The following year, around the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Herpy and his teammates organized a Thanksgiving food drive for local families. Then, in 2021, Herpy gathered teammates to volunteer with a New Haven organization that delivers food to area people who are in need and or homebound.
Volunteering has taken on a unique look in pandemic times. Herpy saw more examples of that when he and Albertus teammates made audio recordings reading for local elementary school students who were at home doing distance learning.
“You look at life through a different lens when something crazy like that happens,” Herpy said. “It makes you appreciate everything you once had, come a time of uncertainty. You still want to make an impact, whether it’s behind a mask or however else, but now that things are starting to settle down, you realize that you should definitely continue to give back in as many ways as possible.”
Herpy continued that this past season, in spearheading a charity game that Albertus played in November against Hamilton College. Over $12,000 was raised for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Herpy shakes hands with a local veteran prior to a recent game with Albertus Magnus. Herpy’s father was in the Air Force and he has several uncles with military experience, and the father of one of his Albertus teammates had been injured while serving his country. That made the Hamilton game that much more special, for Albertus’ players and their families but also for an Albertus student and veteran who participated in a ceremonial puck drop.
Herpy feels that that game provided a blueprint for future charity-driven games at Albertus.
“The cause might change year to year, but the format is somewhat down in that we know what to expect and how long to prep for it,” Herpy said. “My vision for this is that it’s something where we can come back as alumni in 10, 20 years and they’re still putting that on.”
Herpy, who is also a senator in Albertus’ student government organization, will return for a fifth hockey season while he works toward a Master of Business Administration degree. He is currently interning with a New Haven law firm, and plans to enter law school.
Kyle Wallack, Albertus’ only-ever men’s hockey coach to date, has high hopes for one of the first players he brought into the Falcons’ fledgling fold, back when the world looked a lot different.
“He’s a self-motivated kid,” Wallack said. “Our first year, we wanted to make sure we were building our brand in the proper manner, and part of that was community service and getting the guys out to volunteer and do different things, and he took that ball and ran.
“I’m sure he’s going to be successful with whatever he does. If he wants to be do law, he’ll be a rock-star lawyer and if he wants to go into business, he’ll be killing it on Wall Street. He’s a difference-maker, and he has been with our hockey team, but also with what we do away from the ice. He’s a great teammate, and to see what he does in our community is phenomenal.”