Nutley/Columbia Ice Hockey Season Kicks Off
On Tuesday, March 13 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted all lives as it spread globally and caused the Nutley Public Schools to move to remote learning. All spring sports were canceled. As the 20-21 school year approached, there was speculation about fall sports. They were able to take place since they were outside and allowed for easy social distancing protocols.
As winter approached, the thought of sports happening inside was doubted. After much back and forth the winter sports season was ready for a slow roll out. The first sport to take off was ice hockey. This year the Nutley-Columbia Ice Hockey Team is ready to show their skills as they take on a difficult season and learn from a new coach. Captains, Zach Fagin (Columbia High School) and Cooper Fojas (Nutley High School), along with Coach Macri discuss goals for this season, challenges, and on.
Leading up to the official start of this season, Macri, Fagin, and Fojas were uncertain of what the season would look like and at times they questioned if there would even be a season. Fortunately, they were the first indoor sport allowed to start practicing, but there are big differences from years prior. “The only thing that’s really the same is what happens on the ice. Everything else - the locker rooms, the fans, the atmosphere - is all gone,” says Fojas. Zach, who explained this season's differences similar to Cooper also added that it is very frustrating, which is understandable.
As for struggles the team will have this year, Coach Macri says, “ There will always be struggles. How we handle them is the key.” Like any season, players are always concerned. Zach says, “We don't have the most talented team in our division and have a tough non-league schedule ahead of us.” With the concern of these factors, he hopes for the underclassmen to truly step up as the team also lost a good amount of seniors last season. Macri explains that the team is doing well so far and they had their first scrimmage in which they tied, against Wayne, but this is only the beginning.
Zach and Cooper both have similar goals for this season. As captains, they both hope to lead the team in positive ways. Zach says for both of them, “ I want to lead the team the best I can and leave a lasting impact on my teammates and the program as a whole.” Leading the team in positive ways this year is essential as I’m sure there will be moments of doubt due to what is going on in the outside world. Along with this goal they’d like to win as much as they can, but that’s not what hockey is all about. When describing his goals for this upcoming season as the high school's new coach, Macri says, “ Ice hockey isn’t about winning either. It’s about playing our game better than the other team plays theirs. When a team can do that, winning becomes a byproduct.” Hopefully, the team will be able to take these goals and put them into action.
As the season progresses the Nutley-Columbia Ice Hockey Team will take on many teams. A few are Oratory Prep, Millburn, and Gov. Livingston. Their home games will be held at Codey Arena. Although visitors are prohibited in person, there will be live streaming of the games. Watch and follow as NC Puck takes on yet another challenging season despite the pandemic.