Brian Monteverdi has taken over as head coach for Bergen Catholic after the departure of Brack Healy and is hoping for the team's first winning season since 2009. (Photo/Prudential Center)
Bergen Catholic thought Brack Healy would be the man to turn the ice hockey program around when he was announced as the new head coach in May, but just months later the Crusaders were back asking the same question, who would be coach?
Shortly after accepting the head coaching job at Bergen Catholic, Brack Healy was given the opportunity to fill a Vice President’s role in another school district, which forced him to walk away from the Crusaders. Despite leaving the program, Healy was partially responsible for convincing Brian Monteverdi to leave his job as the assistant coach at Seton Hall and accept the position with Bergen Catholic.
|Monteverdi held the position of Assistant Coach at Seton Hall before taking the Bergen Catholic position. (Photo/Courtesy of Bergen Catholic) |
“When Brack was leaving, he had given me a call and asked if I was interested,” Monteverdi explained. “At the beginning I wasn’t sure because I was the assistant over at Seton Hall Prep where I had been for a few years, [but after] a couple of phone conversations, the position grew on me and I got excited about it and went for it.”
The idea of being head coach and the ability to sculpt a program with his own visions and methods eventually led to his acceptance of the position in October, less than two months before the season began. It was a tough decision for Monteverdi to walk away from Seton Hall Prep, the school that he once played for.
“It was extremely difficult. It was a team I graduated from, it was a school that I had played for, the school I was coaching at, and I think one of the biggest or hardest parts of that decision was the relationships I had built with a lot of the players … leaving those guys and coaching against them, and I will coach to beat them,” he said with a laugh, “Leaving them was probably one of the hardest things.”
The fact that Seton Hall and Bergen Catholic are so similar is what drew Monteverdi to the position, but it is also what drew Athletic Director, Jack McGovern to the coach.
“Coach Monteverdi comes to us highly respected by his peers and [is] knowledgeable in both game tactics and training methods for our student-athletes. He also most recently comes from a similar institution, Seton Hall Prep, so he understands the mission of our school and how we develop young men in a Christian setting. I am very excited for our players to have the opportunity to chase excellence in every way, under the leadership of Coach Monteverdi and his staff,” said McGovern in the BC press release.
Monteverdi has playing experience in a league similar to Bergen Catholic’s as well as experience at the collegiate and junior levels. He knows what it takes to win and as Developer and President of the East Coast Hockey Academy, he knows what he needs to do as head coach.
You can almost do anything you want if you put your mind to it, and I think that’s something that has to be implemented at the beginning of the season with our players. - Brian Monteverdi
Last year marked BC’s fourth consecutive losing season, ending with a record of 7-13-3 and Monteverdi is aware he is expected to turn the program around. He is eager to change up the program, recognizing that in the past the squad has under achieved. The first difference will be the implementation of a full-year ice hockey program.
“I think with the better teams in the state, a lot of these kids are playing together throughout the year and I think that’s a large part of the success … that’s what I kind of want to implement at Bergen,” said Monteverdi. “How I do that? I run outside the season passing clinics and things like that where I would set up exclusive practices for the team throughout the season, if they can participate [they] participate just to keep them going in the outer season.”
Coaching the team to win games is important, but Monteverdi believes that winning isn’t just reflected in the team’s record. Being successful also comes from a positive outlook and trust in the coach, yourself and the rest of your team.
According to the new coach, building team camaraderie and team pride is just as vital as getting a handle on new drills and the new system.
“A lot has to be said about positive energy and believing in one’s self. You can almost do anything you want if you put your mind to it, and I think that’s something that has to be implemented at the beginning of the season with our players,” explained Monteverdi.
With the season just getting underway, Monteverdi is already impressed by the athletes he has on his team. With such turmoil surrounding the position it would be understandable for the players to be hesitant and maybe even resistant to their new coach, but that’s not what he’s seeing.
In fact, he can already get the sense that the same type of team building he had with the athletes at Seton Hall can also happen with the Crusaders.
“After our meeting many of [the players] came up, shaking my hand, welcoming [me] to the program, to the school, [and saying] thank you,” Monteverdi recalled. “It was nice, and I think I’m going to have as good a bunch of boys as I did at Seton Hall. They’re all good kids … so far I’ve enjoyed working with them.”
The Crusaders have opened the season 1-1 with their third game coming up against Bishop Eustace on December 8. With Monteverdi securely at the helm of the team, the Bergen Catholic Crusaders will enter the season in hopes of their first winning record since 2009.
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