Topher Scott, a former hockey player and coach at Cornell University and Director of Hockey Operations at the University of Michigan, visited campus to deliver the keynote address for the Boiardi Forum for Ethical Reflection. The all-school assembly is held every year in memory of alumnus and lacrosse star George Boiardi ’00 who passed away in 2004. It celebrates the values Boiardi exhibited as a Bear at Landon and at Cornell University.
Scott spoke to students and faculty about the positive impact we can all have on each other's lives. He shared that this is true even when we may not have had the pleasure of meeting that person, as was the case for him and George. His speech was called “Inspiration from a legend I’ve never met.”.
In this Q&A, Scott explains the goal of his address and how people of all ages, particularly young men, can apply it to their lives.
Q: How did you react when you were invited to deliver the keynote address at the Boiardi Forum?
"Wow!” When I got that email from Mario (George’s father), it was an honor. I didn't know George. I just knew him through his legacy and the stories that I heard when I was at Cornell from his teammates that were still at Cornell when I arrived. I read the book, “The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate” (by Jon Gordon) and learned even more about him through that. When I was coaching hockey at Cornell, we had our guys read "The Hard Hat” as a team building exercise.
We reached out to Jon to be a guest on (my podcast) “The Hockey Think Tank Podcast.” We talked about George and everything that he was, everything that he did while he was at Cornell, and then the legacy that he has left not just at Cornell, but at Landon and everywhere. The podcast ended up on Deborah Boiardi’s phone as a suggestion of a podcast to listen to and they listened to it. Then Mario reached out about coming here and speaking for this occasion. It’s just so humbling. It's such an honor to do this just because I know the impact that George had.
Q: What message did you share with the boys?
I started off with George and his legacy and showing how what you do today can have a positive effect on different people. You see, years after George passed, we're still talking about George and his time at Cornell. A lot of the things that he embodied are still a part of the lacrosse program today. It's just how you live with your core values, which I know is a big thing here at Landon. I shared “the five P’s,” or pillars to success. They are people, perspiration, positivity in perseverance, being present, and passion. I wanted to stress the importance of how you live your life and the impact that you can have on others.
Q: Why is it important to you to share this message with boys and young men, especially Landon students?
I think everybody, but particularly young men are very impressionable. There are so many different influences in the rise of social media. You can have an influence, positively, or negatively. Coming here, I really wanted to spread the message of who George was and how he lived his life and how if we strive to kind of be like he was in the core values that that he lived with, we can do some pretty cool things in this life. I think that message resonates with anybody from third graders to people who are retired.
Q: What has your impression been of Landon during the time you’ve spent here?
I got to speak with a lot of the faculty and staff. One of the things that I was really, really impressed by was the time and intention that is put into building relationships here. How much it's a part of not just the development of the kids, but the development of the faculty and the staff as well. Having been around a lot of different teams, a really big separator of successful teams and non-successful teams is the effort that they put into relationship building. I think when we're trying to have an impact on people, that's the most important thing.