Editor’s note: The following is a letter from Army head coach Brian Riley in honor of former hockey captain and Army Ranger Derek Hines, who was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Baylough, Afghanistan, on Sept. 1.
Dear College Hockey community,
I hope that this letter finds all of you well as the current hockey season approaches. I wanted to write this letter for a couple of reasons. As most of you are by now aware, one month ago, one of our former players, 1st Lt. Derek Hines, was killed while fighting in Afghanistan. I feel it is very important that the people in the college hockey community understand and know what type of person Derek was.
At 5-6 and 165 pounds, “Hinesy” was certainly not the biggest player when he stepped on the ice. But when the game started, he played as big as anybody out there. As a result of his hard-working attitude, he was a fan favorite here at Tate Rink. I know all college hockey fans would have loved to have Derek play for their team. You could not have asked for a better teammate than Derek. His biggest concern when he played was always for his fellow teammates. Derek never put himself before the team, and as a result, was respected and held in the highest regard by everybody with which he played. I know that every college hockey player would have considered it an honor to be a teammate of Derek’s.
As a coach, Hines was exactly the type of person that you want all of your players to be when they are in your program. More importantly, he was exactly the type of person you hope all of your players become when they leave your program.
As the upcoming season unfolds, I know that all of us are filled with much excitement about the year ahead. I am hopeful that when you have the chance to watch Army, Air Force, or Navy play this season, you will take a moment and reflect on how special these young men truly are. The fact of the matter is, these young men might someday be asked to pay the ultimate sacrifice, like Derek Hines, for his country. Young men like “Hinesy” and the players here at Army, as well as at Air Force and Navy, willingly serve and fight for our freedom. They do this so we can enjoy the lives we live here in the United States. Please keep, not only these young men in your thoughts and prayers, but all of the servicemen and women around the world.
On behalf of all of us here at West Point, I would personally like to thank all of those in the college hockey community who have stood by us during this difficult time. Although Derek Hines is no longer with us, his legacy will live on here forever. I hope that all of your teams enjoy much success this season.
Head Coach, Army Hockey