Another showcase in the books- each special in its own right, mostly due to the unique and valuable qualities that each member Team Tampa brought to the table. If you are a proponent of the philosophy that we are a sum total of our experience, then this experience was a cram-packed, extra-large, smelly hockey bag of lifetime lessons brought to you by a host of unexpected, yet well-handled challenges.
Led by the fearless Adam Hall in his inaugural showcase experience, Team Tampa’s coach represented the staff, team and the game of hockey with a professionalism and grace that very few well-seasoned coaches would have been able to endure. Showing up with a smile in his suit and tie to a team of tired (but understanding) players and staff who were being told their rooms were not available, rather than rushing off to his own room, Adam joined the team and staff and even supported staff in ensuring all were rightfully and comfortably placed in their rooms for the night. His first night behavior set an example for the rest of the trip that was modeled with solidarity, professionalism, strong work ethic, calmness under pressure, positivity, and integrity - all “hall”marks of Coach Hall, hockey and a standard Team Tampa represents on a regular basis.
With a good night’s sleep and encouragement under their belt, the team went into the first game with a rough start and learned very quickly that it was going to take thinking fast on skates and checking egos at the bench. The ensuing leadership and recognition of the need for change from players like ERIC BOWLES resonated throughout the entire showcase. Word from the bench came back that the coaches were encouraging and supportive even under the most frustrating of games. The leadership did not stop there, however, on and off the ice leaders emerged. DEMETRIUS SAMARKOS navigated both drivers and pedestrians. ZANDER PIVORIONIK led the team in a vital stocking up of groceries for the trip. Players were welcoming new team mates and reminiscing about past trips. Do these behaviors help to showcase player talent on the ice? Maybe not when it comes to speed, endurance or skill, but where it comes to building trust, respect and working together, whether on or off the ice, it does.
As unforeseen circumstances still emerged for games and down times, players remained calm and Coach Hall spoke to a common theme of overcoming adversity using both examples from his career and encouraging players to use their strengths that he pointed out during each game. Going into the second and third games, the players stood strong in their lines and advanced with growing shots on net. There was no talk of blame or pointing fingers. JOSH BURKE stood out as a new comer to many of the players, but quickly revealed his ability to be hard working, flexible in play and open to instruction. ERIC HARRITY brought a quiet confidence to the team that was an inspiration to all. Even in down times, players were challenged to take on the Bunker Hill monument stairs, which CONOR MORGAN and ANDREW MIRANDA accomplished with teammates noting that there was no doubt the challenge would be met, as the players are hard working and head strong. The team solidarity and bonding was evident on the same day when teammates KYLE REPAR and JOSIE ROBERTS made an entire bridge laugh over cheering on local tennis players.
Regardless of games won, points scored or shots blocked, teammates looked out for each other with an integrity that is undeniable and unlike many youth in our community. Most notably, was ERIC THOMPSON. When concerned for another player, this young man took it upon himself to check on a teammate who he was concerned about on a regular basis for hours and made sure all were aware of the concern. When faced with the choice of right or wrong, good or bad, time and time again, players chose right and good, recognizing when at fault or becoming part of the solution rather than the problem.
Our boys have a passion. We have a responsibility, to the best of our ability, to ensure we equip our young men (and young ladies) with the tools to be responsible, caring adults. What better way to do this than through an outlet that is enjoyable to them and clearly offering life lessons that no book, lecture or video could replicate? They are learning skills that will last them a lifetime from staff who care and want them to be happy and successful. They are making lifelong friends and memories. Many of these young men were on their last showcase and last game before pursuing their educations and careers. I am certain that all of these talented young men will continue to grow and thrive in all of their journeys and that Coach Hall and Lightning staff played a supporting role in their development as leaders and men of character.
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