Hip surgery prevented Kevin McNamara from following the on-ice lead of future Colgate men’s hockey captain Ethan Cox during his sophomore season.
While sitting out the 2008-09 season, McNamara instead learned more about off-ice commitments from his older teammate.
McNamara, who had already started developing an interest in community service during his days at the Belmont Hill School near Boston, found someone to look up to in Cox, a 2010 graduate.
“I jumped on board with him because I had so much spare time,” McNamara said of Cox, the 2010 Hockey Humanitarian Award winner. “I saw how much needed to be done in the community but also how supportive the community is of us.”
McNamara remembered both when he decided to make a special project part of his senior season.
McNamara, the current Colgate captain, created Goals for Good, a program that pairs ECAC Hockey men’s and women’s teams with charitable projects in their communities. Through pledges, Goals for Good raises funds for those charities based on the ECAC wins and goals of their team.
According to www.goalsforgood.org, “Goals for Good hopes to bring an increased amount of aid and awareness to our charities this season.”
McNamara has proven to be a well-rounded part of the Colgate community since arriving in Hamilton, N.Y., after receiving the John Carlton Memorial Award from the Boston Bruins for his athletic and academic achievement as a Belmont Hill senior.
After ranking second among ECAC freshmen defensemen in scoring in the 2007-08 season, McNamara went to the coaching staff about remaining involved while recovering from surgery in his redshirt year. That led to student coaching work, including help with video, but also left him with time to accompany Cox on his community service work around town.
“Coming to a Division I program, I thought community service might not be a cool thing, that it might not be in the forefront,” McNamara said. “Ethan did a great job of making it something everyone can do, like toy drives and canned food drives around the holidays.
“Without Ethan spearheading those things, it would be tough to continue today.
“It’s easy for my teammates and me. Ethan’s really the one that made community service something that’s important.”
McNamara made sure that message continues to be delivered now that Cox is playing professionally with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. With Cox graduated, McNamara took over the annual holiday toy and food drives for the Hamilton Interfaith Coalition and the Hamilton Food Cupboard last year.
When thinking about how to approach charitable work in his last season at Colgate, McNamara decided to reach out to opponents.
“Talking to friends around the league, it seemed as though we all had similar experiences,” McNamara said.
McNamara used Facebook to track down captains from programs around the ECAC, encouraging and challenging them at the same time. The Goals for Good website tracks the programs that have raised the most funds to date, although McNamara said the process of collecting donations will keep those standings from being 100 percent accurate until the season is over.
Through McNamara, Belmont Hill’s Community Service Program has pledged $1,500 to a food pantry or soup kitchen near the school that raises the most money at the end of the season. In getting the process started, McNamara ran into some challenges but he was pleased with the cooperation of the other hockey captains and the willingness of the charities to assist his start.
“I really wanted to work with captains because I figured they probably had the best grasp of their teammates and wanting to get other people involved with their school,” McNamara said. “… All the captains were a huge help.”
Bobby Farnham, a Brown captain who McNamara knew as an opponent in the summer and in high school, was particularly enthusiastic.
“He jumps out because he had a huge hand in the charity they partnered with — The Thomas E. Smith Fight to Cure Paralysis,” McNamara said. “One of his best friends back home started the charity.”
The specific connections between teams and the charities they chose is one of the motivating forcing in the project.
“We cannot wait to play for and support this charity that we feel so close to,” Farnham said.
The charities are more than just recipients in the program.
As he got into more complicated community service work, McNamara found the people working in the field more than willing to share advice.
The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation at Harvard helped explain how to spread the word about the project.
“They were a huge help getting started, offering help with things like how to write a press release,” McNamara said. “A lot of people I’ve met through the charities have been a huge help.”
The biggest remaining obstacle was the actual collection of the donations, which was complicated by the idea of pledges for each win and goal. Pinkdingo.com, a company founded by Colgate graduate Scott Arneill, provided the answer with software created to handle performance-based donations.
McNamara built the rest of the website and combined it with Pinkdingo’s functions on the actual donation process.
Still, McNamara learned that some people interested in donating were reluctant to use credit cards for an ongoing, season-long donation. An option of a one-time donation to any of the charities through Goals for Good was added.
McNamara learned the importance of community service in high school and through the example Cox set. Now, he is learning the effort necessary to generate charitable dollars.
With limited ECAC games played to date and early growing pains, the project had gathered its first $2,000 as of Christmas week.
“It’s gotten off to a little slower start than I envisioned, but every little bit counts, as cliché as that sounds,” McNamara said. “I realize we’re in the growing stage.”
The $1,420 raised by Colgate for the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund in honor of Colgate rugby player and class of 2012 member Victor Krivitski, who died in August of a rare form of cancer, leads the way.
As the ECAC schedule heats up after the holidays, McNamara hopes the competitive nature of the hockey programs generates a race to see which program can do the most to use its goals for good.