JY20: An introduction

November 10, 2015 on 10:50 am | In history, JY20 | 2 Comments

trophy_closeupMonday marked the first day of practice for high school ice hockey teams in my home state of New Jersey, which means, in 2015-16, that it marks the beginning of my 20th year covering those teams. The milestone is bittersweet, because it will probably be my last year covering New Jersey high school hockey for Hockey Night in Boston and maybe even the last year of my website, NJHockey.org, which I have run since I was a freshman in college in 2001-02.

Increasing professional and family responsibilities mean less free time for the ‘hobby’ role that hockey takes, and while I am thrilled about everything going on in my life, it will definitely be strange for me if and when I am absent from the New Jersey hockey scene.

Over the years, I have been asked countless times – by coaches, parents, friends, roommates – WHY I keep track of every game played by boys’ varsity ice hockey teams in New Jersey. Why I stay up almost every night for four months inputting scores into three separate spreadsheets. Why this continued when I lived in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana and I saw very few games in person. Why I’ve continued to track and monitor a fairly average group of players and teams (no offense, guys!) in a sport that does not rank among New Jersey’s or the country’s most significant.

“I can’t imagine not doing it,” has probably been my most frequent response, and it’s true. If I stopped running my website, then decided in January that I wanted to know who was in first place in the Mennen Division, or how East Side was faring this season, how would I find that information? Would it be accurate? How often would it be updated? Would it reflect game results the way I would list them?

But there’s much more to it than that. For the last 20 years, despite never having played or coached the sport, I have been welcomed and accepted into a unique community of New Jersey hockey people. They rely on me and talk the game with me, and we all enjoy that. But they also root for me and support me and ask how they can help, and there are many I consider friends. Walking into a New Jersey hockey rink — most of them, anyway — feels like coming home. It is a community I cherish and love and will never forget.

Why do I love it so much? Maybe this 20th year of coverage, in which I intend to increase my published writing at blog.njhockey.org and continue to provide Twitter updates via @NJ_Hockey, will be my way of trying to explain and document why and how New Jersey high school ice hockey has been an integral part of my life every winter since before I even reached high school.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the season!

2 Comments »

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  1. Jon

    I have been following your website for 16 years and cannot thank you enough for everything that you have done for New Jersey Hockey. While we have e-mailed each other on number of occasions and have only seen each other at my rink a few times, I have been privileged to watch you grow. I do not know what New Jersey Hockey will do when you put down your pen because you will be really missed. Hopefully you will reconsider your decision but if you don’t we all at the Ice Vault will wish you well in your future endeavors. You will always be welcomed in our building and hope that you will show up.

    Thanks
    Bobby

    Comment by bobby reiss — 10 November 2015 #

  2. Thanks for making me feel old. Didn’t realize that it was that long ago I took over HNIB from Len and then you took it over from me…

    It was funny because I recall knowing that there were only 53 teams in New Jersey back then (we won’t get into why I know the EXACT number).

    Great stuff and good luck this year and in whichever direction the future takes you.

    Comment by Tony Piscotta — 17 November 2015 #

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