Sixth annual Morin Smith Award winner, Paul Matucci, shines in the classroom
For thousands of Norwich hockey fans, the name Paul Matucci is virtually a household word. The prolific forward from Peterborough, Ontario, has scored no less than nine game-winning goals for the highly successful Cadets over the past three seasons. What few Kreitzberg Arena faithful realize, however, is that the player they know as #10 shines as much off the ice as on. Having completed all the requirements for his bachelor's degree in only three years, the physical education major will be hanging up his maroon and gold jersey in favor of a promising teaching career.
"As much of a star as Paul was on the ice, he is an even greater academic star," said Jim Segar, P.E. instructor for Union 32 High School in Berlin, Vermont, and Matucci's student teaching mentor this past semester.
Segar, who graduated from Norwich in 1976 with a BS in physical education, had the honor of presenting Matucci with the Sixth Annual Morin Smith Award. Given each April to the graduating senior who has shown the most promise as a prospective school teacher, the $4,000 cash award is the legacy of Morin Smith, a longtime faculty member at Norwich who died in 1995. The annual award ceremony serves as a celebration of Smith's life, his commitment to teaching and learning, and especially to his mentoring of students.
Segar, who as a student had Morin Smith as his own mentor, remarked that Matucci possessed some of the same qualities as Smith. "He is a respected leader and role model, with the ability to make a difference in the lives of many students," said Segar.
Matucci's faculty advisor Professor Jan McCleery felt that Morin Smith would have been pleased with this year's selection.
"What impresses me most about Paul is that he realizes it isn't just the content that he is responsible for teaching in the classroom, it is the opportunity to have a positive impact in a person's life. That's the type of person that Morin Smith was. Sure, he taught his math content, but he was equally interested in helping the person develop as an individual," McCleery said.
Matucci, who graduated May 9 with high honors, is also a two-time recipient of the Robert Priestley Award, a special coach's award given each year to a member of the hockey team based on character and team contributions.
"I can't say enough about him," said Ice Hockey Head Coach Mike McShane. "In the locker room he's a great leader, and his work ethic is as good as any kid I've coached."
Matucci, who played on a line with Kurtis McLean and Mario Chinelli, contributed 39 goals and 76 assists to the Cadets' offense over the past three seasons, which included three trips to the Frozen Four.
"In the last three years we've had tremendous success, and a lot of it has to do with him," said McShane. "He'll be a great teacher and a great coach, absolutely."
In his self-effacing acceptance speech, Matucci admitted he was so caught off guard by the announcement that he had to borrow a suit for the occasion, having taken all of his home the previous weekend. He went on to thank his professors for their mentorship and guidance, and then spoke of wanting to carry on the Morin Smith legacy.
"I feel inspired by the opportunities that Morin Smith provided, and my goal is to help students by giving them the same opportunities."
Those interested in learning more about the Morin Smith Award may contact Stewardship Officer Allison Sultan at 802.485.2308.
by Diana Weggler