BY RANDY SCHULTZ –
When Dave Santora won the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation “Coach of the Year” Award for 2018, he was surprised to say the least.
“It’s a great honor,” said Santora, head coach of the Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew girls high school hockey team. “There are a lot of great coaches in this league.
“And I don’t mean just head coaches. There are a lot of good assistant coaches with lots of experience in this league as well.
“So to get that award, which is voted on by your peers, means a lot to me.”
Santora was quick to point out just how far the WNYGVIHF has come in less than a decade of existence.
“I think we’ve seen parity across the league this year,” commented Santora. “I think we’ve got more girls interested in playing hockey than we’ve ever had.”
Santora also sees girl’s hockey growing even more, especially with the recent success of the USA Women’s hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“I think down the road we will see more girls trying hockey based on what just happened in the Olympics,” stated Santora. “It takes time for something like the Olympics to have an effect on people.”
What is it like to work between three schools like Lancaster, Iroquois and Depew?
“Everybody has worked well together,” responded Santora, a technology teacher at Lancaster High School. “All the Athletic Directors, secretaries and other support staff have all worked together as a team.
“We are all just trying to give something back to these kids. I’ve been involved with the game of hockey since I was seven years old.
“All I’m trying to do is to help other kids like someone helped me years ago when I was a kid. The best part of my job is watching these girls come in as seventh or eighth graders and watch them grow over a four or five-year period of time.
“You watch them graduate from high school and see how they have matured physically, mentally and emotionally and turn into adults and human beings ready to make their mark in society.
“I hope that I am a small part of their success.”
(Photo by Janet Schultz)