New hockey coach breaks the ice with young team

Under the leadership of new Boys’ Varsity Hockey (BVH) Head Coach Chris Nagy, the small team of players has set to work building the foundation for what they hope will be a winning program in upcoming years. 

After Peter Russo, BVH Head Coach for two years, announced his departure in May to coach at Providence College, Coach Nagy applied for the position through the school website. Undergoing a selection process consisting of a phone interview and live interviews with athletic department members and school administrators, Coach Nagy was hired by Athletic Director Chuck Richard within the next month. 

Mr. Richard said he envisions Coach Nagy creating a holistic hockey program in which he emphasizes the importance of well-rounded student athletes. 

“Coach Nagy is a passionate coach with a proven track record for success,” Mr. Richard said. “He understands the importance of academics and what it means to compete at a high level in the ISL.”

At the age of 5, Coach Nagy said he was introduced to ice hockey by his father, who never had the opportunity to play but loved to watch the game and wanted to pass down his passion for the sport. Within years, Coach Nagy was playing for local youth teams. He joined the team at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody before playing at Assumption College in Worcester, where he graduated in 1998. 

Since then, he has focused on coaching, learning from seasoned coaches such as former National Hockey League (NHL) players Jeff Serowik and Tom Fitzgerald. In 2003, he was an assistant coach for the Middlesex Islanders, a youth club team that won a Metropolitan Boston Hockey League championship title. For the next two years, he was head coach of the PA Selects, another youth club team.

“[Hockey is] definitely my passion, and I’m lucky enough to turn my passion into a full-time job,” Coach Nagy said.

While continuing to coach the two youth teams, in 2007 Coach Nagy founded a summer camp program, CN Hockey, for North Shore players ages 6 through 23 to practice their off-season skills. In 2013, he bought his own select hockey program, the North Suburban Wings, comprised of only two teams. The program now has 14 teams for boys aged 8 to 18 who compete in the Eastern Hockey Federation (EHF) of New England

In the last eight years, Coach Nagy has also been the assistant coach of the boys’ hockey team at St. Mary’s of Lynn, guiding them to a state championship victory in the 2016-17 winter season. Although he stopped coaching at St. Mary’s early last year, Coach Nagy will continue to manage the Wings during the winter seasons and head the summertime CN Hockey program in conjunction with coaching at BB&N.

In taking on his role at BB&N, Coach Nagy said he is achieving a personal aspiration to coach in the Independent School League and to work with its pool of highly skilled players. 

“I know the landscape pretty well, and [the ISL has] the best hockey in New England at this age group,” he said. “I wanted to coach high school kids, where the players develop in front of your eyes, rather than [at an] upstate college, where the players are already mature.”

As part of the coaching philosophy he brings to the school, Coach Nagy said he will stress repetition and encourage his players to be persistent in their learning.

“If you do something wrong, you’re going to do it again,” he said. “You’re going to keep doing it until you do it right.”

Coach Nagy said he also expects his players to maintain a standard of responsibility for themselves and their fellow skaters.

“Accountability for your teammates, on and off the ice,” he said. “Don’t act like an idiot.”

Senior Co-Captain John Day ’19 said Coach Nagy has shown a strong commitment to developing the team and a genuine effort to know his players, having held weekly team meetings during the fall to discuss possible strategies and game plans for the winter season.

“We have one of the younger teams in prep school hockey this year,” John said. “Just having Coach Nagy build a relationship with these new young players before the season [started] really helped the team as a whole and made it a much smoother transition to prep school hockey for a lot of the players.”

Coach Nagy said he believes the seniors—John, Matt Corrieri, and Chris Chen (all ’19)—play a pivotal part in maintaining team morale through the coaching transition, especially for the newer players.

“They’ve been really positive in the locker rooms with the young kids,” Coach Nagy said. “Although [the coaching change] wasn’t an ideal situation, they have still helped me tremendously by bringing those young kids up to speed, by showing them how to get their work in in the weight room and how to get their schoolwork done, time-management-wise.”

The season has begun slowly for the 18-member BVH team, with a 5-0 loss against Lawrence Academy on November 30 and five injuries already on the books by the end of the second game, a day later. 

Coach Nagy explained that the lack of numbers in the program—high school hockey teams usually field around 23 to 26 players as well as a junior varsity squad, which BB&N doesn’t have—makes competing against established ISL teams difficult.

“The kids play a lot of minutes, more minutes than they should be playing,” he said. “With injuries, we’re just trying to hold our heads above the water, just trying to compete.”

Nonetheless, Coach Nagy said, he sees plenty of talent and potential in his players and hopes to create a positive environment for the seniors.

“Once we get more players for next year, that’s when I really want to start building our program towards winning,” he said. 

As of January 13, BVH’s record in the ISL was 0–7–1. They played away at St. George’s after this paper went to press and will play again tomorrow evening at St. Mark’s.

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