"A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” - John Wooden
Coaches like to push our limits and push our buttons. They know how to make us work hard until we feel like we are going to pass out. They help us get better and they make us do the best that we can. Coaching is probably one of the reasons that the greatest athletes get great. Almost every athlete has a favorite coach. That coach has either: taught them a lesson, not only in the game but in life, pushed them to a limit that they didn’t even know they had, or lead their team to several victories throughout their career.
For me, my favorite coach is the man who taught me everything I need to know about hockey. He helped me get up when I was down, he helped me become stronger and get better at my game. My favorite coach is Dante Cozzi. He coaches for the Long Island Legion. Two both very great and successful teams, in my opinion. A reason why Dante is my favorite coach is because he just says whatever. He’ll tell someone to their face that they suck, or that their shot is horrible. Most people would get offended by that but for me, I take it as a way to improve. Dante also likes to curse a lot which makes everyone laugh. When a coach flat out tells you that you suck, you want to show your coach how good you can be, so you work harder. Let me be real, these practices that Dante coaches aren’t the easiest ones. The drills are challenging and difficult but Dante knows that these drills push our limits, but that’s how we grow and how we get better. That's how I got better.
I want to explain how I met Dante. I signed up for a camp in the summer of 2017, at that time I needed a lot of practice and I was lacking confidence. I show up on the first day and I was like holy crap who is this guy. My first impression was I am going to get killed and he is going to embarrass me. It was the exact opposite. He knew exactly how to work me and make me better in a tough demanding way. He treated me like everyone else but at the same time made sure I knew my weaknesses and my strong points. We formed a bond. He has a foul mouth and a real tough way about him but he sees right through you.
To this day I make it a point to train with him. I truly learned that you can't judge a book by its cover. If I would have dropped out of camp I would of never gained the knowledge that one of my most influential mentors taught me.
Dante may seem like a harsh and strict guy but he is one of the best people that I have ever met and I’m very grateful that I have met him in the time that I did. If I hadn't met him when I did over that summer, I don’t think that I would still be playing hockey to this day. I'm very grateful to call Dante Cozzi my favorite coach and one of my mentors. Dante, thank you for all that you do for me and thank you for helping me become a good hockey player on and off the ice.