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SPORTS November 2010

Taking a shot at it

www.thewestwordonline.com

New boys’ hockey coach aims for improved season

Emily Makadok Staff Writer

There will be a new head coach this season for the boys’ hockey team. Gary McGrath, the previous head coach, will be replaced by Assistant Coach John Santagata, whose son played on the team and graduated in 2008. As the new head coach, Santagata is excited to see what is in store for the season. Santagata played hockey for Rippowam High School from 1979 to 1982. At Rippowam, he was a three-year starting goaltender on the varsity team. After he graduated, he went on to play in several leagues in Connecticut. In 1989, Santagata became a coach for the Stamford Youth Hockey Association (SYHA). In the ten years that he coached in the SYHA, his teams won three State Championships. One of his teams was also a New England region runner-up. Santagata also coached the Connecticut Yankees travel team, which traveled as far as Canada to compete. Because of his extensive ex-

perience as a player and a coach, Westhill hired Santagata as an assistant coach ten years ago, giving him a total of 23 years of coaching experience. “The biggest change that will occur will be off-ice conditioning in preparation for the upcoming season and stepped up prep school style practice plans,” Coach Santagata said. Senior Brian Rotkewicz said, “I feel that Coach [Santagata] knows a lot about the game. We are all working hard this season, and one thing we are making sure of is that we are in good shape. Endurance is important out on the ice, and it is the little things that will give us a huge advantage this year.” Senior Ian Gibbs added, “The difference with [Coach] Santagata is the way he approaches practice. We are going to start running more plays rather than just using one strategy, [but] it is still the same team so our game should not change as much.” After facing an overall record of 9-11 last year, both the team and

Mike Bodall / Photographer

Laying the Foundation Former boys’ hockey Assistant Coach John Santagata will take over as the team’s head coach this season. Santagata has over 23 years of coaching experience and holds high aspirations for the team. Coach Santagata have high expectations for the upcoming season. Santagata hopes to see the team win the City Championship, be a

top FCIAC contender, and have a strong run in the State Tournament. He said, “The team is working hard in their preseason workouts and

there is great energy in the air. I am ready to put my own stamp on things as the head coach and I have a lot of new things to implement.”

$200,000 to get Newton to come play at Mississippi State. It is important to note that all of these acts occurred allegedly and that the story is still under investigation. Nevertheless, the story tells of a trend that is spreading to college sports today, and it has major effects on high school athletes as well. We live in a nationalized

phenomenon. A YouTube clip of his home run has had over 1.5 million views. He ended up getting his GED in his sophomore year of high school, playing one year of junior college baseball at the College of Southern Nevada, and was then drafted first in the MLB draft by the Washington Nationals. He will be playing for the Nationals’ farm team and may eventually move up to the majors. Both Newton and Harper’s stories have a similar moral. We tend to forget in this day and age that young athletes can still

world. In the same way that we live in the age of YouTube, where anything you do can go viral and be seen around the world, we live in a world where high school athletes become national sensations. When Bryce Harper, a mere 16year-old high school student, hit a 502-foot home run in the Rays’ Tropicana Field, he became a

be kids. Long gone are the days where a coach would personally travel many times to see a player in an attempt to recruit him or her. Now, the coach will simply text him or her. In doing so, the coaches are breaking a rule set by a ban on coach-to-recruit texting in 2007. Creating an atmosphere where high school students can

become national sensations is not a bad thing, but allowing scenarios like the one currently unfolding with Newton to occur corrupt all levels of sports. If someone close to Newton did truly try to solicit such a large amount of money for him to play college football, it will be a tragedy. Newton has become known for his bright smile and good attitude on the field, and if he was involved in this, it would not be a stretch to wonder if he thought the monetary incentive might be a right of passage for him to play at a “lesser” football school like Mississippi State. If he was not involved with what Rogers did, this will turn into a case of a high profile man in high school sports trying to take advantage of a young athlete or, as recently reported, the story of a father who may have unfairly used his son for money. Either way, this illustrates the problem with the current high school and college system. Harper, the young home-run hitter, was born on October 16, 1992. He is currently playing minor league baseball for the Washington Nationals. He could also be a senior in high school.

King of the Court The great thing about collegiate sports, besides the superior effort to professional sports and the fantastic school spirit, is that the athletes are still kids. I found myself watching the University of Michigan vs. the University of Illinois football game a few weekends ago and was stunned as the announcer proclaimed that the touchdown pass was caught by a “true freshman.” On ESPN­ —national cable TV—a kid one year older than me had just added seven points to the board for Illinois. This is why college sports, and high school sports for that matter, are so fascinating. This is the time before players jump to their former team’s biggest rival for an extra million dollars to add to their $40 million contracts. It is before the time when Johnny Damon can leave the Red Sox after winning a World Series to take a higher-paying contract with the Yankees. As runner and four-time

Column by Zac Krowitz Olympic gold medalist Emil Zatopek said, “An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” Nowadays, most athletes can have their pockets made out of money. College sports, however, have become a haven from the influence of money and power. Or so we thought. This past week, it came out that Kenny Rogers, a former Mississippi State football player supposedly in discussion with now-Auburn University star quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Cameron Newton, was trying to solicit money for Newton to play at Mississippi State last year when Newton was looking to transfer from his junior college to other schools. Rogers owns a company called Elite Football Preparation, which works with star high school football players and hosts camps where they can get recruited. It has been reported that Rogers claimed it would take

We live in a nationalized world. In the same way that we live in the age of YouTube, where anything you do can go viral and be seen around the world, we live in a world where high school athletes become national sensations.


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