School committee approves varsity hockey program

Southwick Regional School Athletic Director Frank Montagna discusses the benefits of having a varsity hockey team. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

SOUTHWICK – At Tuesday night’s meeting, the school committee unanimously approved to allow both a junior varsity and varsity team for the Southwick Regional School hockey program for the upcoming 2018-19 school year.

Prior to the vote, Southwick Regional School Athletic Director Frank Montagna joined the table at the school committee and laid out all of the details that go with the hockey program. Montagna included that the estimated cost to run the program would be $27,000. This would consist of league fees, officials, coach stipends, police for home games, supplies, and ice time.

After finishing his presentation, Montagna informed the school committee that kids who live in Southwick don’t want to play hockey elsewhere, they want to support where they live.

“They are looking to come and put that Southwick shirt on,” said Montagna. “They’re looking to represent Southwick.”

Once the vote was made and announced, all of the supporters of the hockey program were excited to hear the result.

“I’m really happy for the families and the kids that are going to be able to continue on to their careers with what they’re doing,” said Montagna. “I think this is very important to them.”

Southwick hockey coach, Chris D’Angelo, is eager to see what the future holds for the program.

“Our kids have worked so hard for this,” said D’Angelo. “What we’ve done at the junior varsity level is start to implement a varsity program with them and they’ve grown significantly.”

It’s also the players who were out in full force on Tuesday night to show their support. Co-captain Nick Ensign, who will be a junior for the upcoming season, can’t wait to experience the varsity level.

“It was instantly so much emotion,” said Ensign. “I can’t wait until next year, having the fans out there, the atmosphere, going varsity hockey, it’s just that next step we needed to take.”

Several parents, students, players, and supporters of Southwick hockey attended the school committee meeting. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

Ensign’s father, Steve, and wife Sharon, have been instrumental in supporting the hockey team. Along with Pat Jubb and his wife, who have a son Noah, and is a co-captain on the team, the two parents teamed up with the Ensign’s to create an informal committee. The parents’ have held numerous meetings, discussions on the phone, and even an online petition to gain more attention and positivity towards jumping to the varsity level. The vote in favor of the program symbolizes the hard work that’s paid off.

“I couldn’t have been more excited,” said Jubb. “’It was absolutely worth it.”

In June of 2016, Montagna announced that a junior varsity hockey team would be added to their athletic program. The past two seasons, the program has competed against teams throughout Western Massachusetts at the junior varsity level. This past season, the team finished 3-5-2 overall and had 17 players. In their first year, the team only played in nine games, unable to win any, and had just 13 players.

According to Montagna, there’s already an agreement with Amelia Park to have the home games for the 2018-19 season at Amelia Ice Arena in Westfield. There is no decision on whether the Southwick hockey program will join a league or go independent.

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