GHS boys varsity hockey coach Chris Rurak died on Friday.
Rurak, 47, lived in Greenwich with his wife Jennifer Walsh-Rurak and their boys Christopher and Matthew, members of the GHS class of 2023.
In an email to the Greenwich High School community Saturday morning, Ralph Mayo, GHS headmaster wrote, “Coach Rurak made a lasting impact upon the sport of hockey, and his genuine love for the game and his support of his players has been felt throughout our town.”
“Our community is deeply saddened by this loss and our thoughts and prayers will be with Coach Rurak and his family,” Mayo added.
Rurak was originally from Canada, where he became passionate about ice hockey. His family moved to Australia where he continued to play hockey before moving to the US.
He received a BS from SUNY Cortland, where he played varsity hockey for four seasons. He served as captain of the team and was selected to represent the school on the All-SUNYAC team.
As an undergrad Rurak represented Australia in the IIHF World Championships which took him to South Korea, Lithuania, South Africa, Andorra, Barcelona, Spain, Bendigo, Australia and Cardiff Wales.
Rurak received an MBA from Medaille College in Buffalo and started his company Breakaway Transport in 2009.
He and Jennifer settled in Greenwich where he shared his passion for hockey.
“I view it as my civic duty as a high school coach that if a kid wants to play hockey, we should find a way for them to play,” Coach Rurak told GFP in a 2019 interview. After tryouts and cuts, Rurak would meet with each boy to make sure they had somewhere else to play hockey.
“We’re trying to cater to all kids. I’m not partial to any one. I care about them all equally and all the programs equally,” he said.
At GHS Rurak modeled hockey off a Division 1 college experience, acknowledging there was only a small chance a high school player would play at a Division 1 level.
When Rurak arrived in time for the 2016-17 season, the JV team was limited to scrimmages against other JV teams. He reached out to 6 FCIAC teams and started a JV league.
Another idea of Rurak’s was to create a “hockey prom” with the girls and boys teams mixing it up for coed teams with at least two girls on the ice at all times.
He was also the head coach at the Greenwich Skating Club and a member of the Greenwich Athletic Foundation.
“There is a certain atmosphere with high school sports you can’t get anywhere else. It’s unique because it’s community based and includes your friends, your family and your parents’ friends. This is your home. It’s intimate,” Rurak told GFP in the 2019 interview. “That’s why they always say high school sports are the time of your life. We’re trying to make the experience the best and most fun as it can be.”