For Clarkson’s Devin Brosseau, mixing volunteer work with hockey is seamless

By Dan Rubin

Devin Brosseau doesn’t like to consider his volunteerism as work.

Maybe that’s why he does so much of it away from his time on the ice. As a senior for the Clarkson Golden Knights, he wears the captain’s letter and finished the regular season as the team’s second-leading scorer. He’s a key cog on a team that finished second in ECAC Hockey and is vying for national supremacy. It’s a huge commitment, making his personal downtime so precious.

That’s why Brosseau’s work is so meaningful to him and part of why he’s a two-time nominee for the Hockey Humanitarian Award.

“My time for myself is when I give back (to others),” Brosseau said. “I don’t consider any of this work. I guess I’m a happy-go-lucky person like that who just likes doing things for other people. You can’t deny that passing time with teammates is a really important thing, so I do whatever I can. We just take pride in our relationships with other people here at Clarkson.”

Brosseau’s off-ice accomplishments rival anything he’s going to do on skates because he’s woven a positive impact into the fabric of the greater Clarkson community. He’s a man of many hats, helping spearhead the Golden Knights’ initiatives with their Team Impact teammate or by enhancing a Hockey Fights Cancer event he helped start last year. It’s while he’s raising awareness for concussions and youth player safety, which he also helps with a healthy snack eating program.

“I don’t feel like this is a personal award,” Brosseau said. “What I do and how I give back to the community makes this an honor for our entire program. It gives us an opportunity to talk about the entire Potsdam community. It shows another side of a player. Everyone talks about statistics and the best players, but it’s nice to have an award to show off how we give back. I love the award, and it’s nice to be a part of it. I hope it inspires younger players, so it’s really an honor.”

For Brosseau, it’s a multi-year process that’s a part of his hockey spirit. This is Clarkson’s third year with Team Impact teammate Christian, a disabled teenager from the Potsdam area. Christian is a full-fledged member of the Golden Knights, with a uniform in a stall, and integrated seamlessly into the team’s culture.

“I didn’t really know what (the organization) was in the beginning, but I thought it was an unbelievable idea once I looked things over,” Brosseau said. “Christian had a dream to play for the Golden Knights, but he had an accident that meant he couldn’t play hockey anymore. During my sophomore year, we had a draft day with him to make him part of our team. He’s been a part of our team now for three years, and I can’t say enough about what he’s taught us. His courage how he goes about his day makes you realize there are bigger things in life. He’s at practices and in meetings, and he brags about being on our team.

“We brought him to Lake Placid last year, where he got to hold the trophy after we won” the ECAC Hockey playoff championship, Brosseau said. “We get to represent him as part of this team. We love that he can feel these victories through us, so it’s special when he’s there at practice or at meals, and guys will play Xbox with him outside the rink. He’s our extra edge.”

Brosseau’s community involvement isn’t limited to one track, however. Last year, he organized a Hockey Fights Cancer game with teammate Nico Sturm but did so on a shortened window. He learned from the experience and started the process earlier this year, connecting locally with cancer-based organizations. It centered around the ECAC championship rematch between Clarkson and Cornell, exploding this year into a massive event.

“Cancer impacted both families (of Nico and me) so it was really close to hearts,” Brosseau said. “We saw NHL teams do things like it, but we started a month or so before the game last year, which didn’t give us a ton of time. We raised about $800 in about a month’s work thanks to some creative ways to raise money and raffle items off. The awareness we raised was awesome.

“I started planning this year’s right after I got to campus before the game in November,” he said. “There’s a group on campus called Colleges Against Cancer, and I was in direct contact with the American Cancer Society. Some NHL teams donated some stuff, and we made some shirts with the ‘I Fight For’ label to fill out. We wound up raising about $8,000, which was incredible. We’ve already had meetings for next year, even though I won’t be here, so we can continue the tradition with guys who want it to be brought along. I’m already planning on making it bigger (next year).”

It’s all part of his fabric, which stretches across different elements and environments. He linked up with former captain Nic Pierog to continue work with the Headway Foundation, which helped him raise concussion awareness within the youth community. That brought the entire Clarkson athletics community together, led by its hockey programs.

“All of the teams were on board,” he said. “You’re only one call away from getting every team at Clarkson, and we all went to practices for youth teams. We made sure all the kids got the Headway Foundation bracelets. In a community like Potsdam, we can have a positive impact and influence on young guys and girls.”

It strengthens the bond between a community and its flagship college programs. Potsdam isn’t a huge city, so programs like the Snack Pack Program enable athletes to work with kids for healthy eating. He volunteered with visiting and reading with children in schools, and was recognized by the ECAC as its Student-Athlete of the Year last season, with additional efforts at the Annual Spring Cleanup and Salvation Army Bell Ringing in Clarkson’s hometown.

It’s happened all while he won the conference’s postseason MVP for the championship run last year, a position he hopes to replicate this season with the Golden Knights.

“I realized quickly that Potsdam is a small town,” he said. “There’s so much influence you can have because everyone is invested in the hockey community. We can raise money and snacks or go to schools to sit and eat with kids. There are little things like going to hospitals. One day, you go to a school, and three weeks later, you’re in a store and see parents who are still talking about it. They give us a lot of support, so for us to give support back is pretty special.”