High school ice hockey

Contento takes reins from Brussard as Hobey Baker Award state director

Men have strong Midcoast ties, life-long passion for rink game
By Ken Waltz | Jan 07, 2020
Courtesy of: Vin Contento Vin Contento.

Camden — Vin Contento has been an avid ice hockey fan since he was a child growing up in Newark, Del. and now the Camden resident will bring that longtime passion for the game to a position that nurtures — and, ultimately, rewards — Maine high school players who demonstrate "character to build excellence."

Contento has taken over as state director of the Hobey Baker High School Character Award Program, as he replaced Dick Brussard, who also has Midcoast ties.

Each year, a senior hockey player from each participating high school is selected by his or her coach to be honored by teammates and celebrated by the school and the community for outstanding individual performance on and off the ice.

Hobart Amory Hare "Hobey" Baker (Jan. 15, 1892 to Dec. 21, 1918) was an American amateur athlete of the early 20th century. Considered the first American star in ice hockey by the Hockey Hall of Fame, he also was an accomplished football player.

The Hobey Baker Award has been issued to college hockey players for 40 years and the program also has been at the high school level since 2003, under the leadership in Maine of Brussard — and now Contento.

While Contento did not play organized hockey as a child, he learned to play as an adult, which only fueled his love and desire for the game, he said.

In high school, Contento played soccer, baseball and wrestled four years. He graduated from West Chester University in Pennsylvania where he studied communication and played soccer at the Division II college level.

Work brought Contento and his family to Maine, where he and his wife, Alison, have lived since 1994 with their daughters, Sarah and Caroline, both multi-sport student-athletes, including ice hockey, at Camden Hills Regional High School.

As a volunteer, Contento coached soccer, softball and ice hockey at the squirt through midget levels and was the president of the Maine Coast Skaters' Association youth hockey organization 2012 to 2016.

Contento also has participated in several long-distance endurance races, including two full Ironman triathlons, but currently enjoys the camaraderie and relaxed competitiveness of adult pickup hockey. He also watches his daughters compete on the ice, soccer pitch and lacrosse field.

Contento works for Bank of America, where he has been employed for 30 years and he also volunteers as the public address announcer for the Camden Hills hockey team, a role he has enjoyed since 2016, at the Midcoast Recreation Center.

He said he is excited to be part of the Hobey Baker program for Maine.

Brussard steps down as director after a long, successful tenure. He was responsible for bringing the Hobey Baker high school award to Maine eight years ago.

"We all owe Dick a debt of gratitude for his foresight, commitment and dedication in bringing this prestigious award to Maine," Contento said. "I want to personally thank him for his time and efforts over the last eight years. He is a good friend and a great steward of the Hobey Baker program."

The Hobey Baker program has several mottos, including, "Character makes the game better" and other focus words such as "excellence, love for the game and portsmanship."

These are the values that shaped the legend of Hobey Baker, states information on the program's website. The Hobey Baker Award committee believes "adversity builds character, and character builds excellence. Character makes the game better."

"Success in life, much like success in hockey, demands more than skill alone," the program's website declares. "It demands a positive attitude, an excellent work ethic, and a will to succeed, no matter the circumstances."

In 2003, the Hobey Baker High School Character Award was established to honor high school hockey players. Candidates are selected by their coaches, based on the following criteria: Coachability, strength of character, integrity, commitment, teamwork, community leadership and outstanding sportsmanship.

Winners receive a personalized commemorative plaque — and a distinction shared by some of the top players to hit the ice — namely, being a Hobey Baker winner.

Contento now oversees that process for the Pine Tree State.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

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