Tribute to hockey player who died from St. Edmund 3 years later

Jan. 6 marked the third anniversary of the passing of FDNY firefighter Steven Pollard, a 2006 graduate of St. Edmund Prep who played on the Eagles hockey team. (Photos: Courtesy of St. Edmund Prep)

Three years ago, on January 6, FDNY firefighter Steven Pollard made the ultimate sacrifice.

The 30-year-old died in the line of duty after sustaining serious injuries while trying to rescue two people trapped in the wreckage of a car crash on the Mill Basin Bridge in the Belt Parkway.

Pollard was a true hero, and that’s why his high school alma mater continues to keep his memory alive.

Pollard graduated in 2006 from St. Edmund Prep HS, Sheepshead Bay. There, he played as a forward on the Eagles junior varsity and ice hockey teams.

“As a player, he (Pollard) was a really solid player,” said Mike Leahy, the current St. Edmund varsity hockey coach who was an assistant coach when Pollard was a junior. “There was nothing flashy about Steven. He embodied who he was as a kid. He was just a quiet, hard-working kid. He did everything you asked him to do.

From growing up in Good Shepherd Parish, Marine Park, throughout his time at St. Edmund’s, Pollard wanted to be a firefighter – just like his father, Raymond, who served 32 years in the FDNY. His brother, Raymond, is a 14-year veteran of Ladder Company 114 in Sunset Park. Pollard served a year and a half for Ladder Company 170 in Canarsie.

On the morning of January 6, 2019, Leahy learned on the news that a firefighter had died in the line of duty in Brooklyn. However, when he walked into St. Edmund’s that day, he heard the fireman was his former player. He said the entire school community was devastated to hear the news.

Three members of the hockey program were invited to attend the funeral mass at Good Shepherd, where thousands of firefighters and first responders paid their respects. The student-athletes all wore their purple Eagles jerseys in honor of Pollard.

St. Edmund’s hung Pollard’s No. 55 jersey in the school gym so all can remember his heroism. A year after Pollard’s death, the school held an alumni game named after him.

Forty former Eagles dressed up at Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island as nearly 500 fans – and the entire local fire station – watched from the stands. Although the last two alumni games have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a tradition that will continue once it can resume.

Those who knew Pollard all have their own way of remembering his legacy. For his former coach, a simple and meaningful gesture on the Belt Parkway allows him to reflect on the life of the deceased firefighter.

“Every time we drive over the bridge where he (Pollard) went, I always bless myself,” Leahy said. “One of the kids asked me about it and I explained to him that’s where Steven died, so I bless myself every time I pass.”

It takes some bravery to strap on a pair of ice skates and practice a fast-paced contact sport on a frozen sheet of water. It takes even more bravery to risk one’s own life trying to save another.

Pollard’s undisputed bravery as an FDNY hero began on the ice for the Eagles. As we celebrate the third anniversary of his death, we pray for his family and friends and for all who cherish his memory.


Contact Jim Mancari via email at jmmanc@gmail.com.

Catherine J. Martinez