Growing up, Greg DaSilva and Chris Wiggins were inseparable, on and off the ice. Best friends since kindergarten, they both played as forwards for Randolph High School's ice hockey team. In 2006, they felt the thrill of beating Montgomery to win the state championship. While capturing the states proved a euphoric moment, it was the long game that really mattered, the day-to-day efforts, through practice and drills. That's what bonded the duo with their teammates, strengthened their work ethic, and helped build their character.
Today, it's not surprising that the pair can still be found in the rink together. As coaches of Gill’s ice hockey team, the two share their enthusiasm for the sport and impart their wisdom learned from a victorious season and the everyday hard work it required. When Coach DaSilva recalls his senior season, he is especially thankful that today, despite the pandemic, GSB will return to Bridgewater Sports Arena for its first practice. He is rooting for an uninterrupted run, with the first faceoff against Verona High scheduled for January 16. More than anything, he wants his seniors to enjoy their last chance to play on the ice together.
"My senior year of hockey was one of the best times of my life, and I'm hoping we get the season in," he said. "Our seniors, they started from the bottom. Their first year, they only won two games for a 2-13-2 record, and since then, they've been integral in turning this program around. Last year, we lost the division championship with 30 seconds to go."
For now, Coach DaSilva has his sights on winning the coveted Haas Cup, the top division prize that the team came so close to grabbing last year. Granted, things this winter will be different, with COVID-19 protocols and reduced games. A new coaching assistant, Ian Anderson, the Upper School mathematics teacher, will help the Knights. Already, the team has been meeting weekly via Zoom calls to talk strategy, mental and physical preparation, and expectations. Top returning players include forwards Brenen Lavoie '21 (captain), and Christian and Logan Mote '22; defensive players Liam Jones '21 (captain) and Matthew Bloomenthal '22; and goalies Matt Cooper '21 (captain) and Alex Steinberg '22.
The coaches' plan for their squad is to focus on the journey, not the end-goal. "We're big on process over outcome," said Coach DaSilva. "We want sharp practices with mental and physical preparedness. If we do these things, then we'll achieve our goals and have better results." Above all, their focus rests on the collective group. "There's no individuals; it's team first, team first, team first," he said. "We're only as strong as our weakest link. We want our players to pick up those around them."
For both Coach DaSilva and Coach Wiggins, working with the focused athletes at Gill has been a delight. "It's such an awesome group of players, and it makes coaching at Gill a bonus," said Coach DaSilva. "It's a mature team. We've been blown away. Our job is easier because the kids are mature and ready to grow and develop into the best players they can be. We love coaching here."