You would never expect someone to drive over 500 miles a week on a regular basis just for hockey, let alone a carpenter with rope-like hair living in Hopland. With so much determination and passion for hockey, it is only natural that Coach Jesse Kofalk keeps his kids playing the greatest sport ever, even after the regular season imminently comes to an end. Unlike professional hockey players, there would be no rounds of golf for this Bantam Spring League
After all this is California where you wouldn't think that parents would embrace an indoor sport that comes from the Great White North. And yet, the Golden State is home to three NHL hockey teams equaling almost all of Canada. And so, it takes that same type of individual to make an extraordinary effort in creating an unprecedented Spring League program that is much more about life than just lacing up skates and slapping some pucks in a net.
As the Spring season blooms and bears fruit, so have all the players who partook in the hockey Spring League training. It is only be-fitting that the Spring League program be led by some heavy-hitters now known in the industry as, Jesse’s Posse. The kids progressively stepped up
their game with the help of professionals, including Synergy Health Club’s personal trainer, Jacob Fulton, and nutritionist, Kendra Mancini, rounding out Jesse's dream team for dry land training. On ice coaches topped the bill with Coaches Blake Johnson, Chris Whitten, Scott Davis, Beau Jordan, Greg Cornelius, Jesse himself and your's truly. It is therefore just as natural to see the kids respond to these coaches in the same way we respond to what we eat, as we learned from Kendra.
As part of the Spring League training, community service was an important initiative in the program and with so many opportunities to give back, team manager, Roxanne Maillet chose to team up with Rocky and Rosie for the annual Friends of Petaluma River cleanup. The team tackled these volunteer efforts early on May 6 with as much vigor and pride as they continued to blossom every Saturday throughout the Spring season, on and off the ice.
”Are you guys Scouts?" asked the Friends of Petaluma River organizers impressed with the team’s maturity and size. This year would be a record high for the turn out in volunteers. The morning fog was lifting only to be replaced with a competitive air and this team was ready to put in an athletic effort with the same “can-do” spirit they showed throughout every Saturday’s suffer festivities.
With the players fed breakfast and eager to pick up trash from the lure of the land, the goal for the day was clear, win the prize for returning back to base with the heaviest loot. We set out on the Adobe Creek trail and immediately went to work. The kids were eager to collect as many unnatural sightings as possible, including drifting off into the knee-high grass way off the gravel path. What ticks? Even the foundation of the Sheraton Hotel was an opportunity to not miss out on trash. Team work? You betcha. Five players were no match for the lonely fence post out in the marsh. Determination? Check. A 400 pound bin was worthy of a trek to the middle of nowhere in order to save a possible home to a sanctuary of birds. Never one to let an opportunity to improve your hockey skills slip by, the Coach could be heard out in the playing fields, “put more wrist action into trash picker, like you’re rushing with the puck.”
So how did the players respond to such a mundane chore they would never have signed up for at home? Was it more camaraderie, more competitiveness or more team work, more leadership, dare I say, more fun? Well, all of the above, actually.
And did we end up winning the prize? Unfortunately no, as our closest competition found an entire kitchen to edge us out of contention. But we did win plenty of consolation prizes including a trucker's cap adorning the classic Ptown Rooster that the deserving Coach Jesse will no doubt cherish for the rest of his life.
With not enough players on the roster to make it to the Valencia Spring League tournament, the community service became the team's top trophy and one of the key goals for Coach Jesse’s program. No shots were scored, no saves were made, no penalties were called, but this team came out the winner over any organized venue. They won the game of life. Now this has become the norm for what parents should expect from their kids when they sign up for hockey.
From left to right background: Ario Bigattini, Jesse Kofalk
From left to right mid row: Jahnyha Kofalk, Nicholas Meshcheryakov, Vincenzo Bigattini, Jake Palm, David Krug, Jim Palm
From left to right foreground: Giuliano Bigattini, Ethan Davis, Brennan Dressick
Hockey is all about preparation and with a successful implementation of the ideas presented at the Board of Directors way back in April to seeing its fruition come bloom at the end of May, these kids will be as prepared as ever for the hard hitting Bantam Fall season come September.
See you on the ice…Ario Bigattini.
The author lived in France for 2 years and is a US citizen and retired hockey player born in Canada to immigrant parents of Italian descent.
From left to right background: Blake Johnson, Jesse Kofalk, Scott Davis, Jahnyha Kofalk, Nicholas Meshcheryakov, Ismail Martino, Ario Bigattini
From left to right mid row: Jim Palm, Jake Palm, Vincenzo Bigattini, Ethan Davis, Freya Berglund, Beau Jordan
From left to right foreground: Brennan Dressick, David Krug
Missing coaches: Chris Whitten , Greg Cornelius
Missing players: Hudson Levesque ,Kyle Curenton
Missing goalie: Will Cornelius