The Colgate Scene
January 2006

A coaching legacy

Left to right: assistant coach Andrew Dickson '93, head coach Don Vaughn, and new assistant coach Brad Dexter '96 during men's ice hockey practice at Starr Rink [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Thirteen years ago, Don Vaughan took over as the head coach of the men's hockey team, beginning a revitalization of the program that has led to consecutive 20-win seasons over the past two years. On the ice during his inaugural season were standout forward Andrew Dickson '94 and precocious defenseman Brad Dexter '96.

Now second of all time on Colgate's list of coaching victories, Vaughan is a highly respected member of the Colgate athletics community. This year, Dickson and Dexter have also changed positions, watching the game from behind the bench as assistant coaches. Dickson, in his seventh season as an assistant coach for the Raiders, is a familiar sight at Starr Rink, but this is the first year in his new role for Dexter, who said prior to the season's opener that he was "just as excited as when he was a player."

Both men took circuitous routes back to Colgate, with each enjoying fairly lengthy stints playing professional hockey, but it is clear that today there is nowhere that they would rather be.

During his distinguished Colgate career, Dickson, as a first-year in 1990, was a key part of the only Raider hockey team ever to play in an NCAA championship game. He served as the team captain as a senior, and still ranks seventh in games played and 26th in points. Upon graduation, he played briefly in England, dominating the British Hockey League before returning to the United States to finish the season. The following year, Dickson played for Memmingen of the German League. There, he was among the league leaders in goals, assists, and points for the next three seasons. He finished his professional career by playing a season in the English Premier League before returning to Colgate to accept the coaching job.

Dexter also enjoyed an illustrious career, both at Colgate and after graduation. During his time as a Raider, Dexter moved onto the top-10 all-time lists for defensemen in assists, points, and goals. He earned all-ECAC honors as a junior and senior, and as a senior he was also named a second team All-American. Dexter began his professional career with the Raleigh Icecaps of the ECHL. He was then traded to the South Carolina Stingrays, winning two Kelly Cups as ECHL tournament champions. Also included in his lengthy career were stops in Pensacola, the Danish Elite League, and Syracuse. Making the decision to hang up his skates after the 2004-2005 season, Dexter was lured back to Colgate to serve as the coach of the defensive unit.

Dickson and Dexter share a love of Colgate and an unquenchable passion for hockey. Although it is likely that each could have found positions at other schools given their distinguished playing careers, both found that it was an easy decision to choose Colgate. Dexter even went so far as to claim that he would still be playing professionally if any other institution had offered him a job.

"I'm a proud Colgate person, so for me it was a no-brainer to come back when the job was offered," said Dexter. "It was basically a love of Colgate that brought me back."

"Playing pro, you get a different perspective," Dickson added. "When you get to know guys from other schools, you can tell that their bond with their school is nowhere near what we have with Colgate."

Both Dexter and Dickson bring an outstanding work ethic that is fueled by their passion for hockey -- the main trait that Vaughan cited for their success as players and as coaches.

"It was obvious very early on, even as players, that they really loved Colgate and that they brought a lot of passion to the game of hockey," Vaughan said.

Pride for their alma mater also manifests itself in the way Dickson and Dexter recruit players.

"One of the things that we like to tell prospective student-athletes is that they will come to a program that is run like any of the big programs in the country, but when they leave after four years, they're likely going to have an education better than 90 percent of the guys that they played against," Dexter said.

It is feelings such as this that have brought these two proud alumni back to Hamilton, where they have helped Colgate off to a great start this season. After all, Dexter and Dickson share another characteristic: a penchant for winning hockey games.

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