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© Abbey Mercando for The Daily Reflector

What does hockey mean to you?

"When my father passed away, I wasn't near the ice that much. I was just working all the time. My dad made sure, when it came to getting me new equipment or making a better team, we were always going to be okay. He made sure there was food on the table and he never missed a game. Since he passed away, being at the rink definitely makes me feel closer to him."

Why did you come to Greenville?

"Four or five months before I moved away from Michigan, I told my mom, 'If I stay in Michigan, I'm going to die.' It wasn't because of drugs or drinking, but I felt it. Maybe I wasn't physically going to die, but I was going to find myself working the same job, doing the same thing. I had enough of Michigan. When I moved down, I took a paycheck, a bag of clothes and my hockey gear.

"I feel like I'm here for a reason. I'm coaching a team of kids who really want to be here, and whose parents work hard and sacrifice a lot to give that to them. In the locker room after practice or games, I tell the kids to thank their family because they don't understand what it costs, but the families are making it happen. Seeing that as a coach makes me want to step my game up even more."

"For the kids, it's all about creating that environment for them. Home wasn't always a home for me; the rink was my escape and getaway. To have that and to create that for kids is what it's all about. The coaches that get remembered are the goofballs, who get out there and draw the passion out of their players, not the ones who throw water bottles and get mad at eight year olds. Watching a kid learn something new and seeing the look on their face when they do it, that's when I'm doing my job."


Bless your heart
Bless your heart