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One of the highlights of Youth Hockey Night at Madison Square Garden on Sunday came during the second intermission of the Rangers-Sabres game, when Peter Caputo of the Scarsdale Youth Hockey Association became the third winner of the Emile Francis Award for service to the local youth hockey world.
Known simply as "Coach Pete" throughout the Scarsdale Youth Hockey Association, Caputo is one of the group's founders, having helped to start the program in 1996 when only a small number of families in Scarsdale expressed avid interest in the sport.
|Peter Caputo, known inthe Scarsdale Youth Hockey community as "Coach Pete", poses with some of the youngsters from his program after receiving the Emile Francis Award Sunday night at The Garden. |
Caputo unexpectedly became a member of one of those families, because his son wanted to play the game but had no local organization to join. Caputo made sure that no youngster in Scarsdale would ever have that problem again.
Over the past 15 years, Caputo has worked tirelessly to grow a program that now includes over 100 players on seven teams. A large part of that growth has been a focus on inclusion of all kids, regardless of skill level.
Caputo has insisted that the Scarsdale Youth Hockey program never turn away a dedicated young hockey player for any reason, regardless of the player's skill level or economic circumstance. As long as the youngster was willing to work hard, Caputo has been willing to ensure that he or she will have Scarsdale Youth Hockey's full support.
As a coach, Caputo specializes on the incoming mites (ages 4-7), because he believes a child's earliest experiences of the game can shape a lifetime in hockey. In working with these kids, he emphasizes the importance of teamwork, fair play, work ethic and discipline. Although he has had opportunities to coach older children, Caputo prefers to focus on the youngest and newest players entering the program each year.
Caputo says his favorite moment of the coaching process is seeing when a group of young kids begins to "get it". By "get it" he means not just understanding a concept but also being able to successfully execute it on the ice as an evident skill.
The Scarsdale Youth Hockey Association's appreciation of Caputo came shining through in the numerous Emile Francis Award nominations submitted by the association members, including its president, Tim Bock.
"The payback for Pete is seeing a young child’s face light up with every accomplishment; hearing 7-year-old teammates congratulating each other on a great game ...after a loss; and, most importantly, the satisfaction of knowing that he is giving back to hockey and our community in the most important of ways -– nourishing its youth and future," Bock wrote in his nominating essay.
When it comes to the NHL, Caputo has been an avid Rangers fan ever since his son took up the game and became a Rangers fan himself.
On Friday night, Caputo's award was presented to him on The Garden Ice by former Rangers stars Nick Fotiu and Brian Mullen, both products of the local New York youth hockey scene.
Caputo is the first Emile Francis Award winner from Westchester County. Past winners of the award include Christopher Schuler of Staten Island and Tony Mazzola of Middletown, N.J.