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School committee to vote on hockey program

SOUTHWICK – At Tuesday night’s school committee meeting, the committee will take action on whether or not they want to approve both a varsity and junior varsity hockey team at the Southwick Regional School for the 2018-19 school year. 

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

After seeing the vast improvement that the program made from the first year to the second year, head coach Chris D’Angelo, along with parents, players, and many supporters, felt it was necessary to take the next step by trying to evolve the program to the varsity level.

“I have some great players, I have some players with talent who probably could start on many other teams,” said D’Angelo. “I want them to be able to be pushed as hard as they possibly could.”

Several people in support of the team going to varsity showed up to the school committee meeting on April 3. After several questions were asked by school committee members, the hockey supporters left the meeting with a good feeling and no indication that there would be any pushback from the committee.

The Southwick Junior Varsity team is seen in action against Chicopee on January 21, 2018. (WNG File Photo)

Then, on April 6, it was revealed that the committee had voted no on having the hockey program go to the varsity level.

The news came as a shock to some of the parents and supporters of the team.

‘We were pretty comfortable that it was something that was going to happen,” said Patt Jubb, who has two sons that play on the junior varsity team.

After the School Committee’s vote Jubb helped start an informal committee with other parents and supporters to try and come up with ideas on how they could gain more movement and get the school committee’s attention.

Steve Ensign and his wife, who also have a child on the team, teamed up with Jubb and his wife. From there, the couples went back and forth talking on the phone, holding meetings at their homes, and even creating powerpoint presentations to discuss the matter.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” said Ensign.

One item that the parents created was an online petition to have people sign to show their support of the hockey program’s desire to reach the varsity level. With the goal of receiving 1,000 signatures, as of Sunday, the petition has a total of 567 signatures. Over 240 of those are strictly from Southwick residents.

Ideas like the petition have sparked an increase of support throughout the community.

“There has been a huge outpouring from social media, there has been a lot of support,” said Jubb. “We have a lot of people backing us.”

Due to the amount of support and attention that the hockey program has received recently, the school committee will be having another vote about the team going to varsity as an action item at the meeting on Tuesday.

Leading up to the decision on Tuesday, Jubb, Ensign, and all of the other supporters wanted to recognize Montagna and Southwick Regional School Principal Joe Turmel for their countless efforts assisting them during this process.

“Those two guys deserve a high honor for all of their hard work and dedication,” said Jubb. “If it wasn’t for Frank (Montagna), we honestly wouldn’t have this program.”

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of Powder Mill School.

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