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High School Hockey: DePaul Catholic Appoints a New Varsity Head Coach

by Brittany Burke / New Jersey Devils

Rob Vizard served as Assistant Head Coach at Bergen Catholic before accepting the varsity position with DePaul. (Photo/ Courtesy of Rob Vizard)

DePaul Catholic ice hockey is heading into the season knowing it will be a rebuilding year. With just 14 skaters and three goalies, there is room for growth and improvement. At the helm of the team stands the newly appointed Head Coach Rob Vizard.

Coming from Bergen Catholic, where he still teaches, Vizard pulled double duty as junior varsity head coach and varsity associate coach. He left behind his coaching position to be able to try his hand as the head of a varsity team.

“I really wanted the opportunity to be a head coach. I got the opportunity to get the DePaul job and Joe Lennon thankfully gave me the [chance] and it’s a real privilege and honor to be able to work for DePaul and rebuild their hockey program up,” Vizard said.

New Head Coach Rob Vizard was a four-year varsity player for Don Bosco Prep and has an extensive background coaching midget teams as well as at the junior varsity level.(Photo/Courtesy of Rob Vizard)

The new coach knows what it takes to prepare a top team. Vizard has an extensive background as a junior varsity head coach for both Fair Lawn High School and Bergen Catholic High School. While at Fair Lawn, he helped develop his players’ skills to be able to move up to varsity while also boasting a 12-10-2 record. He was also the JV coach for Bergen Catholic and during his tenure; he notched a winning record of 35-19-4.

Following the departure of former head coach, Darren Amerkanian, Vizard stepped in and is already looking into ways to make this a fully rounded hockey program. With new coaches and a handful of returning veterans, it’s vital to build trust and team chemistry. Though the season hasn’t started yet, the work really began this summer with a hockey camp at Floyd Hall.

“ … I have a pretty good coaching staff … all in place so we’re hoping to really coach the kids up and be ready to go and you know, we do have a tough division but we’ll be ready. There will be some changes that the kids aren’t expecting [from] what they’re used to.”

In his attempt to create his whole hockey program concept, there are a few things he would like to bring to the Spartans from his time with the Crusaders. Practices like video analysis of the team and its individual athletes as well as off-ice training. He also wants to hold players accountable for their actions through discipline on and off the ice, and create a channel between the Spartans and community youth hockey teams.

“From what I’ve been told at DePaul previously, they didn’t have much in video analysis and their games so that’s something we’re going to instill in the program. I’m definitely going to try and teach more of a whole program concept from the bottom to the top. Take your best players and then take your worst and try to make them better as the year goes on. Those are the things I’ll be bringing and things that I have seen and done by working over at Bergen,” said Vizard.

...It's a real privilege and honor to be able to work for DePaul and rebuild their hockey program up."Rob Vizard

While his title might have changed, his values and goals remain the same. In his coaching philosophy, Vizard states objectives and beliefs such as making academics a priority and developing the team, which is made up of male and female athletes, to be hardworking, passionate and conduct themselves with a high level of sportsmanship. As head coach, he is looking to designing practices to help his athletes become overall team players and emphasize the skills that will help develop the athlete’s complete physicality and mentality. Above all else, he wants to help prepare his athletes for their best possible future.

He hopes that his philosophies will help enhance the DePaul Catholic ice hockey program to a point that he will be able to help expand and increase its involvement.

“I was the assistant coach at Bergen Catholic for the last two years at the varsity level and I’d like to hopefully build our program up to what Bergen Catholic has had over the last few years. [This means] finding kids to come into the school will be huge. Being able to build it up and get a whole program going again, to have a varsity team, and I’d like to hopefully get a varsity and JV program going again.”

Vizard acknowledges that there is a lot of work to be done but he is excited to get into the new season and really coach the athletes into being top contenders in the North Green Conference.

“We’re definitely in a rebuild mode and I think we’re also going to have a very good season. We have a lot of really good seniors and I think we should be in the group, be right in there in the division,” said Vizard.

“ … I just want to basically be one of the top teams in the North Green … I think that we have a good opportunity. Ramsey is in the league as well. I think they’re probably going to be the best team in the division and they have a load of talent there, but I want to be successful. I want every team to look at their schedule and see that they’re playing DePaul and say, ‘Wow that’s going to be a tough battle tonight,’ … I’d love to be above 500 and be able to make some noise doing that and make state playoffs.”

Play doesn’t get underway until next month and until then there is still a lot to be worked on, but one thing is for sure, Vizard remains optimistic that his new team can turn around their 8-13-2 record and produce a winning hockey season.

For more, head to NJ Youth Hockey Central.

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