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Bright Comets: DeFazio Proud of College Experience

(Comets Photo by Lindsay A. Mogle)

DeFazio, a winger for the Comets, enjoyed a successful hockey career at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, which is only about 130 miles north of Utica. He played for four seasons, where he racked up 77 points in 141 games (36-41-77), in addition to tallying 176 penalty minutes before earning his 4-year degree and graduating in 2011.

Much like teammate Alex Biega, DeFazio always knew that getting a college degree would be one of his priorities. “Ultimately the importance of having an education to lean on post-hockey was a huge reason why I chose Clarkson,” DeFazio explained. “Academics have always been something that my parents made sure were taken seriously growing up. To get an education and to play at a school like Clarkson, where hockey is second to none, was a pretty special opportunity.”Brandon_DeFazio

While attending Clarkson, DeFazio admitted that the experience was not always easy. In U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 rankings of ‘Best Colleges,’ Clarkson landed at #121, proving it to be a tier one university. Understandably, DeFazio acknowledged that there were times he struggled to find equilibrium between athletics and academics. “It’s tough being a student athlete sometimes, and finding that balance between hockey and school,” he stated. “Being a hockey player, and wanting to do everything you can to chase the dream of playing in the National Hockey League, it can be easy to lose sight of your academics. When you’re tired from a long practice or workout and you have to get to the library to study for an exam, it can be a grind.” When asked what qualities made him most successful during the toughest of times, DeFazio explained that time management is crucial. Student-athletes do not have the same amount of time as other students to study and prepare their work, so they have to take a more diligent approach towards planning and organization. “You’ve got to stay on top of things,” DeFazio instructed.

Looking back on his college experience, DeFazio would not trade it for anything, as he raved about his four years in Potsdam. “Clarkson was a great experience for me – full of great memories and great friendships.” You look back and remember the big games, obviously, the NCAA Elite 8 game, or games against St. Lawrence, but the times you shared with your classmates are the ones you look back on and miss most,” he said. The people that he met while at Clarkson shaped his positive and motivated attitude about the future and helped him succeed both on and off the ice.

In addition to succeeding academically and athletically, DeFazio is also extremely active in the community.  When playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season, he was named the ‘Man of the Year’ for his contributions to charities in the community. He has not missed a stride so far in Utica, having actively participated in local hospital and community visits.

An ideal role model for hockey youth who are balancing schoolwork with their athletics, DeFazio encourages kids to stay focused on their dreams. “Just stay on top of your schoolwork,” he stressed. “It’s so hard to get a scholarship to play hockey these days, and if you’re lucky enough to get one, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for a couple of courses you didn’t take seriously at a young age.” It is without question that DeFazio has the triple threat – brains, talent on the ice, and concern and care for his community.