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Victor Post
  • New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan returns to Hilton

  • New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan returned to his alma mater Hilton High School on Friday, December 21, to speak about leadership to members of the Cadets' Leadership Council.

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  • The halls of Hilton High School were buzzing with an excitement that extended beyond the promise of holiday break on Friday, December 21, as New York Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan returned to his alma mater to spend a day speaking to student-athletes about leadership.
    Callahan - who played one year of hockey for the Cadets - was on hand to speak with Hilton’s Leadership Council, a group of student-athletes selected by the varsity coaches and made up of one junior and one senior from each varsity athletic team. He spent his time talking about what it means to be a leader and recounting his steps to being named captain of the Rangers.
    “I spoke to the student-athletes about facing adversity and using it as motivation to be the best you can be,” said Callahan, who graduated from Hilton in 2003. “When I was named captain it was recognition for the hard work I put in and I earned that by being myself. One key to being a leader is to be yourself, and if you have a solid work ethic and go about thinks the right way others will feed off your success.”
    The road to the NHL began for Callahan as a member of the Junior Americans where he played two seasons (1999-2001), moving on to the Syracuse Jr. Crunch and Buffalo Lightning of the OPJHL before a four-year stint with the Guelph Storm of the OHL. He turned pro with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL before getting called up to the Rangers on November 28, 2006.
    From the first time he took the ice as a junior skater to being named the 26th captain of one of the most storied franchises in the National Hockey League on September 12, 2011, Callahan faced adversity on many different levels. The way he handled those situations, coupled with his ability to stay positive and his desire to be the best, gave him the qualities it takes to be a leader at the highest level.
    “Every day you are faced with decisions that shape who you are and call upon your abilities as a leader,” Callahan added. “As an athlete you go through a long season with a lot of wins and losses and you experience a lot of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. Part of being a leader of a pro team is to make sure the team doesn’t get too ‘high’ after a win or too ‘low’ after a loss, and the team really feeds off how you conduct yourself in the locker room, at practices and on game day.”
    Callahan’s style of leading-by-example is one of many ways athletes rise to the top, while others use a more vocal approach to encourage their teammates to be their best. Each way can be an effective way of leadership and motivation as long as one thing remains constant: the message is genuine.
    Page 2 of 2 - “ [Callahan] told us how you can’t be a leader without being yourself,” said Hilton senior Bobby Vasta, who is in his fourth year on the varsity hockey team and a member of the Leadership Council. “If you try to be someone you’re not others will see through you, and that is not what it means to be a leader. If you go about your work with a positive attitude and a good work ethic you will be successful, and others will see that hard work pays off and follow your lead.”
    The day ended with an autograph/photo session in the gymnasium where a number of students (and faculty) were on hand to meet Callahan and thank him for taking the time to speak about his road from Hilton High School to the NHL. Athletic Director Mike Giruzzi ended the day with a special thanks, presenting Callahan with his #2 Cadet hockey sweater, capping a homecoming that will be remembered by many for years to come.
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