If some tells Tim Gardner, MPE ’81, MET ’83, “You can’t do that,” he hears, “Go do that.” So when he had visions of starting the first hockey team at Wentworth in 1979, Gardner heard “no” many times, but he never took it for a final answer.
A former high school hockey player from Marlborough, Mass., Gardner simply wanted to play. “I missed it,” he says.
And, it turns out, so did many of his Wentworth classmates. “I stopped by Northeastern’s rink and found out when they had stick time,” Gardner says of exploring public pickup games.
Not long after, he was posting handmade flyers around campus and hosting a meeting in his dorm room—a standing-room-only gathering of young men who would later become Wentworth’s first-ever hockey team.
Gardner put together a group of “really good players.” His uncle, Len Bowen, a longtime coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, invited Wentworth to play. But there was a catch: They needed a coach.
Enter Alan Whittemore, a Wentworth employee at the time and former hockey coach. Gardner had to push to formalize an intramural club team—initially a tough sell to Wentworth administration. At first turned down for funding for jerseys, he designed his own (using the Wentworth colors) and collected money from the players (Wentworth later agreed to pay).
Today, Wentworth’s NCAA Division III men’s hockey team competes in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. Gardner is manager of instrumentation and control, electrical, and auxiliary engineering at Babcock Power. He helped organize and start up Shanghai Hockey Club while working in China for Foxboro Company (now Schneider Electric) and Westinghouse.
Gardner’s leadership on the job is rooted in his Wentworth hockey days. “Being forced to navigate systems and face resistance when I was starting the team helped me learn how to communicate and interact with people, and develop the tenacity and drive to get where I want to be,” he says. “That kind of experience is something you take with you for the rest of your life.”
— Kristen Walsh