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Getting to Know Senior Blake Pickett

Game Program, January 14, 2005

Q: Tell us about your hometown of Temecula, California.

A. There's not a lot going on out there. It's kind of a wine country area. There's quite a bit of horses out there, too. My parents moved there when I came in my freshman year. It's about forty-five minutes north of San Diego.

Q: Where did you live before that?

A: Before that I lived in Orange County - further west towards the coast. I lived in California all my life.

Q: Could you describe what it's like out there and how it affected you growing up?

A: Well, there wasn't a lot of hockey. Most people didn't play. You'd have to travel a lot to play. It's just a lot different than the east coast. It's more laid back out there.

Q: What attracted you to the game of hockey?

A: Well I played soccer and then my older brother started playing [hockey]. I don't know how he even heard about it. But he started playing it and I usually did what my older brother did so I started playing. That was around when I was four years old and I've stuck with it ever since.

Q: You were also a star football player at Cushing Academy as well. Why did you decide not to pursue that?

A: At Cushing you're accredited two sports and I liked football, but hockey is what I've always wanted to play. The hockey there is a lot better too and that's what I've always wanted to do. Football was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it, but hockey's always been my first love and I stuck with it.

Q: Could you describe your first experiences on the ice?

A: Well I was four years old and I remember I had the ugliest, bright yellow helmet and a terrible mask. I played with my brother a little bit and it was a small little team. In the beginning I just remember having a lot of fun with my brother.

Q: Did you start out as a defenseman?

A: No, I actually started as a forward and played that until I was at Cushing in high school. I switched back to defense then.

Q: Was the transition tough?

A: Ah, I had to get used to it, yeah, but I knew I liked it a lot better. Once I started playing I know it suited me better.

Q: Were you an offensive juggernaut [as a forward]?

A: In California I was! <laughs> It was not as good competition but at Cushing there were a lot of good players there and we had enough forwards and I was big enough to switch back to defense. That was kind of how it started.

Q: Could you describe your progression over the years playing hockey?

A: Yeah, in California I played until I was a sophomore in high school. Then I went to Cushing where the game was a lot different on the east coast, I'd say, and I learned a lot more about hockey 'cause there's a lot of difference in style. I played forward for another year and then I switched to defense. So then everything really changed and I started learning new things and picking that up as I went along.

Q: Could you describe some of those differences?

A: Well in California it was just more wide open and less disciplined. A lot of kids just ran around and it wasn't as organized. Nobody really knew completely what they were doing. It was more, I don't want to say sloppy, but more people trying to do everything on their own than focusing on the team game.

Q: How did you hone your knowledge of the game?

A: Well I had the same coach my whole life growing up until I went to Cushing so I knew him well and he helped me out. And really when I went to Cushing I started to make a lot more progression, too.

Q: So you're growing up in California and these guys from Cushing come over. What's going on in your head?

A: Actually we were traveling there in Massachusetts 'cause with our team we traveled around the country to play games and were up in Boston and we visited one of my friends that was there. We went and visited the campus and I ended up going there the next year. It was all really sudden, actually.

Q: Was it difficult for you being so far from home?

A: Yeah at first it was but I had my friend [Chris White - Quinnipiac University] who I grew up with my whole life and played with since I started and we both went together so that made it a lot easier on the transition.

Q: What role has your family played in your hockey career?

A: They've always been supportive and we have all kind of learned the game as we went. And they've driven all over like most hockey parents have to. This year, actually, they're going to be making it to every game for my senior year. They're traveling quite a bit. That's some loyalty there! <laughs>

Q: Who's your NHL influence on the ice?

A: Scott Stevens - trying to shut people down.

Q: Who do you look up to off the ice?

A: My dad really played a big part... and my older brother.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: Not a lot. We don't have as much spare time as most people on campus do, but, we try to relax and hang out with friends.

Q: You're at Cushing Academy and these guys from Rensselaer come approaching you. What were your initial thoughts on playing for a university?

A: I was very excited to be playing. I didn't know much about RPI before I came, but once I came on the visit and met all the guys, it was a great environment and I loved it. Burkie [Coach John Burke] approached me and once I saw RPI I was excited about everything. The tradition and the academics of the school was also a big plus - to have a school to have that much tradition in hockey and the academics was a big part. It was a good blend.

Q: Did you want to be far from home still?

A: I would've wanted to go further west but the furthest west I could've got was Colorado but that didn't work. By that point I was going to be away anyway.

Q: How does it feel to be six years away from home?

A: It's weird. Everyone back home tells me I'm not as much of a Californian anymore. It's a big change of pace, really. Over the breaks I go home and all summer I'm always in California.

Q: Any pre-game rituals?

A: I don't do that much. I try to relax and not get too uptight really. I put my gear on a certain way, I guess, but that's more of a habit than a ritual. If we're home I try to go to [the Notty Pine] and get the chicken parm'.

Q: Your thoughts on your final season at RPI?

A: Hopefully we win a championship. I think we have the team to. It's been a great team to close off my team with. Great coach and I'm going to miss the guys... the camaraderie.

Q: Any future ambitions?

A: Ah, I'm taking it as it comes right now. Play hockey as long as I can hopefully.

Q: Favorite opponent?

A: I like playing against Cornell. I hate'em. <laughs> Union games are always fun, too, actually, 'cause they're so close and everyone gets fired up, and we play them back-to-back which makes it a good weekend.

Q: Favorite part of a hockey game?

A: Ah, hitting people. <laughs>

Q: Describe your time at RPI with one word.

A: Fun.

Q: Favorite RPI Hockey moment?

A: When we were in the quarterfinals my freshman year in the ECAC. That was a great weekend up in Lake Placid.