From playing street hockey as a kid to becoming a Division I athlete at Yale University, Andover Boys Hockey Head Coach Paul Tortorella ’80 developed a deep passion for playing and coaching hockey. After playing for his local high school team, Tortorella joined Andover as a Post-Graduate, starting at goalie and winning the team M.V.P. award in 1980.
Tortorella returned to Andover in 2001 and was drawn to the idea of coaching while also teaching English. He cites his own hockey coach at Andover as an inspiration.
“I always wanted to be at a place that allowed teachers to be able to be involved in sports and pursue an intellectual and academic life at the same time. The idea of a teacher-coach is something that stuck with me because my coach was also a teacher here,” said Tortorella.
Tortorella’s coaching career began in high school and college, where he coached during the offseason.
“In high school, I would work with the youth hockey programs and coach the younger goalies. I always coached while I was playing in the summer hockey camps during my college career. Coaching and playing, for me, always came together.” said Tortorella.
Tortorella’s vast knowledge of the sport has a lasting effect on players, according to Matt Veneri ’21.
“Coach has a really good hockey sense. Since he was a goalie, he was able to see the whole ice from where he was playing and he brings a lot of good knowledge into our team and we use it and benefit from it. He is overall a really smart guy,” said Veneri.
According to Co-Captain Carter Giampietro ’19, Tortorella also does a great job of uniting the team and promoting an inclusive environment.
Giampietro said, “Coach Tortorella does a really good job of bringing all the boys together. He makes sure that everyone on the team is being included, makes sure that everyone has a place on the team and that as a group, we always work together.”
Coach Tortorella not only serves as a great coach, but also as a great mentor, according to Veneri and Chris Hocevar ’21.
“Coach is a great person, a really genuine one. He allows us to contribute to something greater than ourselves and we’ve always been grateful for that. He’s taught us a lot of things that go well beyond hockey that we will carry with us through college and beyond. The most important thing he’s taught us is how to be a good overall person,” said Veneri.
Hocevar added, “Coach focuses on our characteristics both off and on the ice and how to maximize our skills and abilities. He wants to succeed as people and as hockey players.”
As a former Andover student and athlete, Tortorella is able to assist players on the ice and in the classroom according to Veneri.
“Since Coach played and studied here at Andover, and also at Yale, on teams full of not only good hockey players but good students too, he brings a sense as how to balance both our academic life and athletic life. I think that’s the most important thing he brings to the team,” said Veneri.
According to Giampietro, Tortorella also does his best to help the captains with their role on the team.
Giampietro said, “He does a great job of giving us, as captains, a platform to make sure the team is organized and that everything gets completed which makes the job as captain easy.”
Tortorella is optimistic and excited for this year’s team due to its chemistry early in the season.
Tortorella said, “I think this year’s squad is unique in its ability to quickly bond together. Everybody seems to be on the same page a lot sooner than I have experienced in the past. I think we have a lot of character, talent, and discipline in this team. I just want them to go out every single day and do the very best they can and to compete at all times. Everything else will follow from there.”