Alumni Spotlight: An Interview with Bruins Prospect Rob O’Gara
by Catie Wise on Friday, June 10th, 2016
Catie Wise ‘17
Rob O’Gara ‘12 has had an undoubtedly successful career after his time at Milton Academy. He initially came to Milton as a repeat junior from Nesconset, a town in Long Island, New York. After graduating, O’Gara started at Yale University the following September. He has played hockey since he was four years old.
During his junior year at Milton, the Boston Bruins drafted O’Gara in the 5th round of the 2011 NHL Draft. That same year O’Gara committed to Yale University to play on the Men’s Hockey team. Meanwhile, at Milton, O’Gara and his teammates became both the ISL and New England champions. To finish his Milton hockey career, O’Gara’s teammates named him captain for his senior season.
During his freshman year at Yale, O’Gara and his teammates won the NCAA Division I National Championship, and, to round off his college career, the Bruins called O’Gara — who had just signed an entry level contract — up to play with the AHL Providence Bruins. O’Gara graduated from Yale University this past May and will attend the Boston Bruins’ training camp, at which he will tryout for the NHL team in September.
Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Rob O’Gara. He was kind enough to answer questions about not only his life after Milton, but also the impact that Milton had, and continues to have, on him.
What are your plans for this upcoming season?
Well, kind of up in the air I guess. So, it all depends on how training camp goes in September. You know, obviously the goal is to make my case to play in Boston, but obviously if not I’ll start in Providence and do my time, work as hard as I can and try to learn from everyone around me. Hopefully, you know, I’ll work my way up to Boston — whatever it takes to get there, I’m prepared to do.
Are there any mentors from Milton that you had?
My junior year we had eleven seniors on the team — them as a whole, that group was very helpful. Just the numbers really helped me see what it’s like to play at that level, and it made the whole transition a lot easier. Mr. Bean was my dorm head, and he was a big Boston fan. Especially in my junior year, when Boston won the Stanley Cup, there was a lot of hype about them around campus. After getting that taste and then getting drafted, I found having people like Mr. Bean around, especially in the dorm all the time, to be really supportive. And, obviously, Coach Cannata. I wouldn’t be where I am without his asking me to go to Milton, and that’s something I stand by. Everything he taught me is very much appreciated.
How did life at Milton prepare you for life at Yale?
I know I wouldn’t have gotten into Yale if I had applied from my public school, but life at public was also a lot different than life at Yale. That being said, life at Milton was not that much different than life at Yale. Being on my own, having to time manage better and sort of structure my schedule and plan doing homework, were things I learned at Milton. The transition from public school to Milton made going from high school to college a lot easier. Also, the hockey [at Milton] was a lot better than it was on Long Island, so looking at it from that point of view, it made that transition a lot easier too.
What is your favorite memory from Milton?
I think the obvious one would be the New England championship. That was incredible. It was such a whirlwind coming in — I had no idea what to expect when I got there. Playing in the fall with my fall [hockey] team, that was a whole different brand of hockey and having success with them, then moving into Milton and having success with them too, and then having it all culminate into that championship is something [I’d] never experienced before — it was so much fun.
What is your favorite hockey memory?
Well, I guess this one’s pretty obvious too, but it would be the national championship freshman year [at Yale]. I never expected that. Obviously a lofty goal you have going in is to win one of those when you’re in college, but when the seniors really came in and said we’re going to win an Ivy League, we’re going to win the ECAC, and we’re going to win the national championship, I was like whoa… this is for real. And then we had some bumps in the road, but you know, everything just kind of fell into place during the tournament. As a freshman, getting that experience was ridiculous — it was crazy. But again, it was something I’ll never forget, and it’s something that really changed the way I saw and played the game my next three years. No other ending to a season will ever be that satisfying, and moving forward, I never want to end on a note other than that — it was a once in a lifetime feeling.
How did you balance playing pro-hockey with finishing your studies at Yale?
So basically, our season ended at the end of March, and everything happened pretty quickly that next week: I was playing the next weekend in Providence, signed the contract, practiced a little, went on a road-trip, came home, played in my first game against the Hershey Bears, and then spent the next three weeks or so, bouncing back and forth between [Providence] and Yale. It was an awesome experience, and it was very exciting. I got my first goal, which was awesome. I promised my mom when I got out of Milton that I would get my college degree — to get that far and not get it would have been bad — but staying [at Yale] for four years was an easy decision and being able to get the experience I did in the Spring was perfect.
What is your next goal?
I guess the next goal is to play for the Boston Bruins. It’s going to take a ton of work, and it could take paying my dues for a while — whether it’s AHL or wherever — but in terms of my career, I want to play in the NHL — that’s always been my dream. Whatever it takes, that’s my goal, and hopefully it’s in Boston, and hopefully it’s soon. I know that’s up to me, so I just got to work hard this summer and see what happens. I’m excited for the challenge.
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