Alumnus Spotlight: Patrick Pickens

Sacred Heart University alumnus Patrick Pickens believes that if not for his time at Sacred Heart and all the work he put into his studies and career, he would not be where he is today publishing his first book. 

At Sacred Heart, Pickens was a writer on The Spectrum his junior and senior years.

“That was my first writing opportunity,” said Pickens. “I think my whole time at Sacred Heart was essential, but especially The Spectrum.”

Pickens initially wanted to be a broadcaster, but his plans changed.

“I began writing sports for The Spectrum and that whole thing about being a broadcaster flipped,” said Pickens. “I decided I wanted to get into sports writing, and it was really sort of learning that this was something I could do and that I had a talent for.” 

In 2007, Pickens graduated from Sacred Heart University and began working at the Fairfield Citizen as the sports editor. While he was there, he covered high school hockey in Connecticut and noticed that fans were wearing Hartford Whalers apparel, even though the team left Hartford in 1997.  

“The fans, the kids, the players, they were all wearing Whalers stuff,” said Pickens. “It had been 11 years since they left Connecticut, and people were still wearing hats and shirts.” 

Pickens believed there was a deeper story as to why people were still sporting the team’s apparel. He started with little knowledge about who The Whalers were and began researching and gathering information about their franchise. 

“At some point, it stopped becoming a networking opportunity,” said Pickens. “It started becoming a really remarkable story that I knew a lot about and learned a lot about.” 

According to a press release from Sacred Heart, Pickens left the Fairfield Citizen in 2013 and began to work for The New York Times doing freelance work with the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and the Islanders. Whenever he found free time in his busy life, he was researching and writing about the Whalers. 

Pickens wanted this book to be the best it could be and dedicated his energy towards it. 

“I knew that I wanted to get anecdotes and stories and comments from as many high-profile people as possible,” said Pickens. “And especially people who knew and lived the story.” 

“The Whalers: The Rise, Fall and Enduring Mystique of New England’s (Second) Greatest NHL Franchise” written by Pat Pickens was published in Oct. 2021, after 10 years of writing and research. 

“I’m really excited about how it came out,” said Pickens. “I was so obsessed with doing this the right way for the people that lived it, and then the people that were learning about it could really learn something.” 

Over the past decade and a half, Pickens has grown into his career and is now achieving his dreams, while giving back to where they first began. Pickens created a lot of his own success, but he believes he owes a great deal of it to Sacred Heart University. 

“I went to Sacred Heart and learned a lot of stuff and my career really took off,” said Pickens. “I want to give back to the school whenever I can.” 

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