Editor's Note: If you've ever wondered about the inception of Hedgeye and how this whole thing started, Keith McCullough's memoir Diary Of A Hedge Fund Manager is a great place to begin. This book chronicles the life and investing insights Hedgeye's Founder and CEO learned along the way in his journey "from the top, to the bottom, and back again."
My dream to play professional hockey lead me to play an extra year of junior hockey, trying to make up for my lost season in Brockville.
When I was recruited to Yale by the team’s assistant coach, C.J. Marottolo, I was a 20-year-old freshman, and I had lived much of the time on my own since age 16.
I remember pledging a fraternity those first few weeks of school and realizing midway through the second pledge ritual that frats were not for me; I didn’t do groupthink, and I didn’t bow down to anyone. Plus, I was swamped. Hockey dominated my life. I was at ease in the locker room. We had one of college hockey’s greatest coaches, Tim Taylor.
Taylor seemed to be in a soul-searching phase of his career, having just wrapped up a disappointing stint as coach of the U.S Olympic Hockey Team, which had not fared well during the Lillehammer Winter Games in 1994. His program’s mantra seemed to be relegated at the time to “just be competitive.”
I think the general attitude around Yale (which had competed in the first collegiate hockey game ever played, a century earlier) was that the Bulldogs simply were never going to be an elite NCAA program but should at least be able to compete. In the previous two seasons the Bulldogs had finished in last or second-last place.
I saw we had a stellar freshman goalie, Alex “Westy” Westlund. He was a ridiculous competitor who would not settle for backup status very long. My first season, 1995-1996, Yale had one of its single worst years ever, losing 23 games, a school record at the time. I played every game that year.
When Coach Taylor would say after a loss, “Hey, you guys competed right there with those guys—you should feel proud.” I’d look at Westy and see he had the same look on his face I did, a perplexed grimace that said I don’t just want to compete, I want to win.
In my sophomore season (1996-1997) we played better, and improved to 10 wins, 19 losses, and 3 ties. I lead the team in scoring and penalty minutes that season. The next season, my junior year, we did more than compete. The team registered the winningest season in the history of Yale hockey, an honest-to-goodness Cinderella story. With a 23-9-3 record, the Bulldogs notched the most wins in the history of the program at that time and won the school’s first ever regular season Easter Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship. Our team Captain, Ray Giroux, was named ECAC player of the year; Westy brought home the Dryden for the league’s best goalie.
We were the toast of New Haven—students and people affiliated with the university were ecstatic about the program’s newfound glory, including alumni and former Yale hockey players. One of those former players wound up offering me an internship at his securities trading firm in the summer of 1998 prior to the start of my senior year.
His name was David Williams, but everyone knew him by his nickname, Tiger. Thanks to him I was about to earn my first stripes on Wall Street.
You can order a copy of Keith's memoir Diary Of A Hedge Fund Manager here.