Head Coach Paul Tortorella ’80 Leads with Trust, Honesty, and Excellence

As a post-graduate student at Andover, Boys Hockey Head Coach Paul Tortorella ’80 played under the guidance of Coach Ted Harrison, the namesake of the Harrison Rink. Tortorella proceeded to be a four-year goaltender for Yale University, falling in love with coaching shortly after his graduation. 

In his 22nd year at Andover, Tortorella presents a framework called “THE,” which stands for trust, honesty, and excellence. According to Tortorella, a successful team relies on support systems built around “THE.”

“It starts with valuing the players; and it goes through to the managers, the coaching staff, the athletic department, the people that make the rink work, the people that come to games, all the way through to the teachers and administration. All of these entities have an impact on the players,” wrote Tortorella in an email to The Phillipian.

As the team’s only captain, Bobby Corkery ’23 works closely with Tortorella, constantly looking to him in order to improve his leadership style. According to Corkery, Tortorella makes an effort to connect with every player and prioritizes transparent communication. 

“He knows how to talk to people, each kid on the team, in a way that they’ll understand what he’s trying to say. He rarely gets very angry. He’s a very calm guy. He really respects every single one of his players, and he expects the same thing. He’s very good at communicating to everyone whether we need to be doing something better, or even if we’re doing something very well, he’ll let us know that too.” said Corkery.

On top of “THE,” Tortorella emphasizes respect, which is evident in his interactions on and off the ice. In addition to hockey, Tortorella encourages respect towards teachers and active engagement in academics, according to Benjamin Skowronek ’24.

“He believes it’s important that he nurtures not just a good hockey team, but a team of good kids as well. He thinks academics are super important. He always encourages us to study and do homework. He just wants us to be respectful of the game and the opponent, as well as our teammates,” said Skowronek.

Corkery shared a similar sentiment to Skowronek, highlighting Tortorella’s efforts to nurture players who can balance both academics and athletics.

“He emphasizes that school comes first. He emphasizes that grades are very important, more important than how we are on the ice… And then off the ice, he really emphasizes just being a good person around campus, using good manners,” said Corkery.

This season, Tortorella hopes to develop a team that can play aggressively, pushing opponents into their own half on the ice. In order to see the team’s progress reflected on the scoreboard, players must stay strong through conditioning and healthy habits, according to Tortorella.

“The main goal for this season is to play a certain kind of aggressive and relentless hockey where we spend almost all of the time in the offensive zone. It requires a total commitment to conditioning, nutrition, good sleep habits, and maintaining strength. The team wants to win, they want a coach that wants to win. The game is played to see who wins,” wrote Tortorella.

Corkery believes Tortorella reflects his efforts to enforce discipline within the team. Tortorella’s coaching strategies have built up the team’s stamina, according to Corkery. 

“On the ice, he really likes to talk [and] work hard. He’s really big for the offseason, making sure you’re working out, going for runs, staying in shape. He really likes to outwork the other team. I think that’s really helped us this year, as we really want condition. That’s helped us win a lot of the games in the third period, not being as tired as the other team,” said Corkery.