Cheers for Island hockey

To the Editor:

I normally refrain from broadcast letters, but I want to thank the entire M.V. hockey program, from the volunteers at the instructional level to the high school coaches, boosters, and sponsors, who make this just a fantastic Island sports program.

After my son picked up hockey, I tried to go to every game over the years, both on and off Island. I’ve always loved the game, but my biggest joy was seeing the development of my son and his teammates on the ice over the years. It’s been really remarkable from this parent’s perspective. From learning to skate outside on the Island ponds through varsity play, it has been a very positive and memorable experience. The coaching and guidance that’s been provided along the way has made all the difference, and that is something that is hard for a parent to provide. Parents can raise a child but can’t coach their child like a team coach can.

The personal and team skills they developed over the past few years will last them a lifetime.  I can’t thank those involved with Vineyard hockey enough for the enjoyment I have had watching the boys advance through the program. It has been truly wonderful.

To the parents of today’s young players, you’re in for a great run. There will be personal sacrifice of your time, postponed vacations, missed ferries, long drives, hotels, meltdowns and triumphs, new friends, fundraisers, cheers and tears, but the experience and memories make it all very worthwhile, and your student athlete will be a better person.

Personal thanks go to Greg Carroll, Mike Jackson, Ed Mutuzas, Mick Vukota, Geoghan Coogan and others who were all part of the youth hockey program that provided the years of skill development, work ethic, sportsmanship, and team play concept that make the program so special and so much fun for children. You see it on their sweaty faces after each session, they can’t wait to get out there again.

The boys really look up to you all. Unlike most sports, ice hockey requires a higher degree of personal skill development, and that necessitates serious commitment and years of practice to mature. You guys do a great job of advancing their skills while keeping them mindful of what being part of a team is all about. Additional gratitude goes to coaches Matt Mincone and Max Sherman and the entire high school hockey program, including the Booster Club, the arena crew, and the behind the scenes video and web cast guys.

Few could manage the job running this high school team as well as Matt Mincone has for these players. Just managing the different personalities of each player must be a challenge I cannot comprehend. In addition, the investment in time Coach Mincone puts in for these young men is truly enormous, and I think few outsiders really grasp the degree of commitment he makes. I know he goes way beyond what other coaches do for other school sports. From the practices, games, travel, prepping, planning, year-round fundraisers, the extensive off-Island scouting of the games of teams yet to be played, the stat keeping, reporting and social media management, video review, as well as the sporadic discipline challenges (which other coaches tend to shamefully ignore), I think few understand the depth and scope of the job the coach of this team actually performs. I sure didn’t when my son joined the team as a freshman. He’s uniquely qualified for this position, and we are lucky to have someone with such high moral character involved with this program.

Thank you for your contribution to the countless players that have been a part of it. You have made a positive impact on many of their lives and helped to mold their characters in a meaningful way. I am certainly grateful for the impression you have made with my son.

I know the parents of today’s youth hockey players will enjoy the coming years, just as my wife and I have. It is a wonderful program that develops physical, personal, and strong team skills that will benefit your child in all endeavors for a lifetime.

Thanks to all.  Go Vineyard.

Jim Fraser

Edgartown