Talking Hockey with Keene State Alum Adrian Dater
If you want to talk NHL hockey with a former Keene, N.H. resident and Keene State College alum than Adrian Dater is your man. Dater , a 1988 KSC grad, is a sports reporter for the Denver Post whose been covering the Colorado Avalanche since they arrived in the Mile High city in 1995.
While the Avalanche have been buried near the bottom of the National Hockey League standings of late, the Boston Bruins are in the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years, with fans around New England jumping on the bandwagon and piling into the penalty box to support the team.
What better time to check in with Dater, KSC’s Avalanche aficionado and resident rink raconteur, to talk a little hockey?
Dater reports that age and attrition have caught up with the Avalanche and these days he is writing more about changes in the front office than line changes on the ice. “My first 10 years covering hockey, I never knew what a losing season was or what an unhappy locker room really was. …I found out,” he said. “But turmoil makes for good copy too.”
While chronicling the demise of the Avalanche hasn’t been fun, Dater says he’s enjoyed watching his hometown Bruins make another quest for the cup. “The Bruins are definitely playing well,” said Dater. “It’s not going to be easy to beat them - that’s for sure.” Despite covering a hockey team 1,700 miles away, Dater is the first to admit that his heart strings still pull strongly for the Bruins and Boston’s other professional sports teams.
Born in Barre, Vt., Dater spent many years in Keene before eventually moving out west. He still has family in the area. His mother, Martha, a 1973 KSC grad, and his stepfather, Mike, still live in the city. His grandmother, Ann Ladam, who died in 2011, graduated from Keene State in 1965 and was a longtime teacher at Thayer High School.
Dater, who attended Mascoma Valley Regional High school, not only grew up loving sports, but relished reading about the Boston teams and players in the newspaper, poring over every word. “I was a fanatic for all the Boston sports teams and read the Boston Globe from cover to cover every day,” he said.
It’s not surprising to learn that Dater majored in journalism at Keene State and spent a couple of years writing sports for the Equinox, the College’s weekly newspaper.
After graduating from KSC, Dater got a job working in the pre-press department at the Concord Monitor, proofreading every ad and classified. “I wasn’t interviewing Larry Bird, but I was in the newspaper business,” he said.
Interested in the news-gathering side of the business, Dater mustered up the courage to speak with the managing editor, who gave him a shot writing some freelance sports stories.
A victim of the tough economy, Dater lost his job at the Monitor and decided to try his luck out west in Denver. “I needed a change. I was 25 years old, living in my parents’ basement,” Dater said. “I said; Why not move out to Denver?”
With a few precious published story clips in hand, Dater walked into the offices at the Denver Post and a couple of days later found himself on the sports desk, taking prep scores over the phone.
A determined Dater got his big break in 1995, when he broke the story of the Avalanche (then the Quebec Nordiques) packing up their pucks and moving to Denver. He was given the hockey beat at the paper and, as the saying goes; the rest (of the sports story) is history. Dater, who has a blog entitled “All things Avs,” has been fortunate to cover his share of great moments with the Avalanche and the NHL, but none surpassed the feeling he got watching former Bruin and Boston legend Ray Bourque raising the cup over his head following the Avs’ Stanley Cup victory in 2001. “It was so surreal,” Dater said. “I grew up watching him as a kid and here I am covering him in Denver as an actual journalist. It’s something I’ll never get over.”
Dater, who has written several books about the sport and has been a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated’ s website, got to cover the Bruins during their Stanley Cup run two years ago. He wrote a story about Patrice Bergeron that appeared in the magazine’s commemorative Stanley Cup publication. “I wrote the story and didn’t know if it was going to run or not,” said Dater. “The story was due before the series was over. If the Bruins hadn’t won those final two games that issue obviously doesn’t come out. I have to admit that I was a Boston homer during the final two games.”
Dater, 48, lives in nearby Thornton, Colo., with wife Heidi and nine-year-old son Thomas. Adrian isn’t the only one in the Dater household who has developed a fondness for Boston athletes and teams. He passed along his passion to Thomas, who loves the Bruins and has a Fat Head photo of Tom Brady on his bedroom wall.
However, Dater, who broke the story about the end of the NHL strike, didn’t maintain his allegiance to the local team when it came to making a prediction on the Bruins and Blackhawk series, picking Chicago to capture the cup. “I’m famous for my jinxes. If you look on Twitter, you’ll see all the predications I got wrong,” he said. “I’m still sticking with the Blackhawks. Maybe that’s good news for Boston fans?”
Dater says he tries to return to Keene a couple times each year to visit with his folks and see what’s new around town. “I was blown away by the Keene State campus,’ he said. “It’s grown so much since I went there.”
Dater has grown-up too. Unsure about his plans after attending college, Dater is appreciative of the opportunity to work in a job that has allowed him to combine his love for sports and writing. “I remember sitting on Appian Way thinking, what the heck am I going to do? I felt hopelessly lost,” Dater confessed. “But that degree from Keene State turned out all right. I guess I didn’t know it at the time, but I still had some kind of drive. I had an incredible amount of luck, but I’ll also give myself some credit. I’m persistent and that’s my advice to kids out there -- just be persistent. There’s going to be some tough breaks along the way, but generally if you hang on you’ll get somebody to give you a break.”