Bob Kravitz has a puckish wit and a well-rounded personality—fitting attributes for an SI hockey writer. What's more, he is a former schoolboy and collegiate goalie, and that experience contributes to stories like the one in this issue on the Patrick Division showdown between Washington and Philadelphia (page 36). Growing up on Long Island, Kravitz discovered hockey and writing at about the same time. A cousin encouraged him to watch the U.S.S.R.-Team Canada series in 1972, "and 10 minutes into the first game I was hooked," he says. Kravitz became a street hockey regular after that, but two years passed before he actually played the game on ice. "My mother wondered how I ever reached the level I did," Kravitz says, "because I basically taught myself, and in the beginning I was always skating on my ankles."
When Kravitz was 16, his family moved to Wilmette, Ill., and Bob found himself the goalie on a team coached by the 20-year NHL veteran Eric Nesterenko. "We were a bunch of upper-middle-class brats, and nobody had ever said boo to us," he says. "Nesterenko would show up at practice without his teeth and with a face that looked like a jigsaw puzzle. We couldn't understand what he was saying most of the time. He just kind of barked at us." Kravitz, however, must have caught Nesterenko's attention. He was called up from the jayvees midway through his junior season, and his New Trier West High went on to out-score its final three opponents 38-2.
Another side to Kravitz had also begun to emerge. "I was writing poetry and short stories in junior high school," he says. "Some teenagers go out and bang heads to let off steam. I wrote." It naturally occurred to Kravitz that the school paper would be the ideal outlet for his talents. Just as naturally, he was assigned to the hockey beat. "I never would criticize myself if I had a bad game, but when I played well, I would always be sure to put in something positive about myself."
Kravitz decided to attend Indiana University for its journalism school and discovered that the Hoosiers also had a club hockey program. It was usually bitterly cold at the rink and hardly anyone but the players came to the games. "I think the biggest home crowd we ever had was about 30," says Kravitz. "It was a particularly warm night, and all the girlfriends turned out."
After college, Kravitz went to work for The Record in Hackensack, N.J. and lived across the Hudson River in Manhattan until his salary put a check on his life-style. Eventually Kravitz journeyed on to The San Diego Union and The Pittsburgh Press before moving back to the New York City area last September to work for us.