BRSN and Slope Media Present: An Interview with Kyle Betts
Kyle Betts is a senior forward on the Cornell Men’s Hockey team. He was recently named the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the year and is currently majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science and Business. He’s from Flesherton, a small town in Ontario, Canada with only 700 people. Kyle will be returning to Cornell for a fifth year on the Men’s Hockey team, making use of the extra year of eligibility that the NCAA allows athletes if their season is canceled for a year.
How did you get into playing hockey?
I got into hockey when I was 3 years old. That’s when I learned to skate,
and my dad played his entire life. It was a natural progression cause I’m from Canada, and that’s the main sport. Almost all of my friends started at that age. I was 4 when I joined my first recreational team.
Ideal Cornell Weekend pre-Covid?
My ideal weekend pre-Covid includes two home games at Lynah — especially Harvard weekend. It’s great when we pack the place for home games and nothing beats hanging out with all the guys after two big wins. I would catch up with schoolwork on Sundays because that’s really my only free day for homework on the weekends.
Current favorite things to do with teammates?
Our weekends are so random nowadays without games, but we’ve been watching a lot of movies together and trying out some new restaurants.
Favorite place you’ve been to with the Cornell Hockey team?
Bright-Landry Stadium whenever we’d play at Harvard — it can feel like a home game since the majority of the fans are Cornell fans. When we score, you would think we were still at Lynah. That’s why it’s dubbed “Lynah East.”
Favorite memory with the team?
There have been a lot of good ones, first off, but I’m going to stick with the Harvard theme here:
My sophomore year we had a tough start. We started off with lots of injuries and losses. On the last trip over Christmas break, we lost to Dartmouth in the first game. Everyone was tired and aching, and we knew Harvard was going to be a good team. After Dartmouth, even more guys got injured, so our lineup was depleted going into Harvard. We didn’t go into it thinking we were going to lose, but we knew it was gonna be a challenge. And then we got scored on two minutes into the game. We had Austin McGrath, our backup goalie and one of the hardest working guys I know, in goal. We fought back and we won that game 2-1 in a nail-biter. I was so happy for Austin’s first win. The satisfaction in the room, chanting our victory song after that game is a memory that will never be forgotten.
Who is the most gullible person on the team?
Most gullible……it’s gotta be Sam Malinski. He’s one of those guys who takes anything that anyone says for a fact. He’s been a victim of some good pranks in the locker room.
Who on the team has the weirdest tape job?
It’s gotta be Max Andreev. It seems like a rite of passage for Russian hockey players who come to North America to have something strange going on with their tape jobs. Sometimes on Max’s stick there are blotches of area where there’s no tape at all.
If you were on aux in the locker room, what would you play?
17 by MK. It’s a song that gets the guys excited and brings back memories of freshman year.
What’s your favorite NHL team?
The Toronto Maple Leafs. I was very invested in them as a kid growing up
in Ontario. I got my fingers crossed for this season for them.
Kiss, marry, kill, NHL players edition: Auston Matthews, Joe Thornton, and Sidney Crosby.
Kiss Auston – He has a great mustache going on.
Marry Sidney- He’s the golden boy of Canada. I will never forget his goal in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
Kill Joe- He hasn’t played for the Maple Leafs long enough for me to be emotionally attached to him.
Would you rather have your least favorite song blare every time you scored a goal, or have to dig a large in-ground pool for your teammates, by yourself?
I gotta go with digging the pool. Even if I only scored one goal this season that would be one too many times hearing any of the new Machine Gun Kelley that Ben Tupker tries to play in the locker room. Also having a pool at our house in Collegetown would be pretty sweet even if I had to dig it myself.
Do you listen to Spittin Chiclets?
(The hockey podcast on Barstool that invented the Pink Whitney drink)
I do sometimes, not religiously like some of the other guys on the team though. Big fan of the Mike Commodore and Keith Yandle episodes, they have some great stories. Two two-hour episodes a week is a lot to keep up with.
Mike Commodore, circa 2006
Kieth Yandle, circa Jan 2020
Congrats on the ECAC Hockey student-athlete of the year! How do you balance playing hockey, friends, and the rigor of the engineering school?
Definitely time management — I knew I had some of those skills coming into Cornell, but I didn’t think it would have to be the level of time management that I’ve managed to get at. Although engineering has a reputation of being vigorous and time-consuming, I think any program at Cornell is difficult to balance with athletics. So if you do athletics, you gotta have a balance between focusing on your sport when you need to and focusing on academics. Guys on the team in other programs still played a big part in helping me learn to balance it when I was a freshman. You really can’t waste time watching Netflix. I don’t even want to download Tiktok because I know I would get hooked to that. For the few hours that I am free, I try to spend them with friends as much as possible.
Favorite class that you’ve taken at Cornell?
Intelligent physical systems — it’s an electrical engineering project-based class. We had to build a robot, navigate the maze, avoid other robots, and make it do other tasks. It was great to apply the theory from other classes to a fun project. I had a great experience working with the people in my group. Being an engineering student has made it easier to make friends outside the hockey team because I am the only engineer and wasn’t able to take all my classes with teammates.
Do you do any clubs at Cornell?
I’m in Redkey, which is an Honors Society for student-athletes at Cornell. We work with kids in the Newfield School District, an underprivileged district. We read and do activities with the kids once a week, and being in Redkey has shown to me the impact that athletics can have.
Did the pandemic make you question if you wanted to go back to Cornell this year?
Yeah, with the Ivy League-wide decision to cancel sports this year, I questioned the Ivy League’s commitment to student-athletes. It had me look at other options for grad transfers. But the guys on my team and coaching staff were a key factor in my decision to return. I knew I couldn’t leave when I felt this group, and myself, still had more to prove. I believe the group we have next year can achieve great things.
If there was anything you could do again on the ice, what would it be?
I would say the final lap on the ice before we go to Lake Placid. When we make it to the frozen four, we go around the ice and tap the glass for all the fans. It’s our way of showing how much the fans mean to us. It’s great seeing the faces up close. We were so close to doing that last year before covid happened.
As much as I’m happy that a college hockey team from my home state of Massachusetts won the 2021 Men’s Frozen Four this past weekend, I wish it was Cornell. I’m sure we all can’t wait to see the Cornell hockey teams make it to the frozen four sometime in the future. We can’t wait for games to start up at Lynah again altogether. Hope you all enjoyed this interview, and let’s go red!
Other photos courtesy of:
Auston Matthews photo: www.tsn.ca
Joe Thornton photo: www.sportsnet.ca
Sidney Crosby photo: www.globalnews.ca
Still of Kieth Yandle: https://streamable.com/
Picture of Mike Commodore: https://twitter.com/commie22/status/732368943059361792