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Better Together: Alums Join the Team for the Alum Hockey Game

December 16, 2023—Steriti Memorial Rink in the North End was rocking with Winsor fans this winter at the annual alum hockey game. Former Winsor hockey players and managers joined the current team to hit the ice for three solid periods of Wildcat hockey. 

Split into red and white teams, over a dozen alums representing three decades of Winsor hockey filled the benches on both sides. Former and current managers took their spots in the booth to run the clock and play game music over the loudspeakers. Fans—students, current parents, past parents, alums, and faculty—lined the far side of the rink and the excitement was palpable as the refs called the game to start and dropped the puck. 

The current athletes not only had an opportunity to get to know the past players on their bench, but they were able to skate, pass, and shoot with them on the ice, leading to more than a few goals. When current player Prudence Sullivan ’24 scored a sneaky goal from the blue line, the alums on her team erupted into cheers as if they had been playing together for years. The diversity in skill level and age only elevated the excitement of the game. 

The Winsor ice hockey team is currently coached by Winsor alum and World Languages Faculty Caroline Burke ’07, who spent her own years at Winsor playing on the ice hockey team for longtime coach Laura Gregory. The team that Burke cultivates is unique in the modern competitive youth sports landscape because the main goal is to fall in love with the game. 

Bringing together Upper School and Lower School student athletes, the team welcomes both life-long hockey players and athletes new to the sport. A knowledge of skating, a commitment to having fun, and a desire to learn new skills are the most important requirements. Upper School students and alums alike recall how special it felt when they were in Lower School to connect with older players. “Every year our captains commit to keeping that experience alive for our youngest players,” said Burke. She is serious about having fun. Practice starts on the bus, where the team blasts their favorite jams over a speaker, always singing along, and the team is known to perform together at events such as Jamnesty and Collect’s lip sync battle. 

Burke coaches a team-forward style of play that enables Winsor to compete in the Eastern Independent League while continuing to develop younger athletes. “I want the athletes to leave the stress of academics behind,” shared Burke. “In a 90-second shift, you might make 25 or 30 different decisions—of course not all of them will be the right one. We have a team-first approach that helps the players support each other, set goals, and learn from mistakes without perseverating on them. Even if they only play with us for a few years, they are building habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.”

At the alum hockey game, story swapping happened off ice with a pizza party organized by Athletic Director Sherren Granese. Winsor hockey fanatics Allison Chan '23, Petra Sarkisian '23, and former manager Lindsay Whelan '23, came for the game and stayed for the pizza—they attended the alum hockey game as Winsor students, and were excited to return as alum spectators. Dozens of alum families came out for the game. For many, it was an opportunity to watch their Winsor alum take the ice again after a hiatus post-graduation and college. 

The 2023 alum ice hockey game was the perfect continuation of the Winsor hockey program—generations of athletes coming together to play hard hockey and have a blast on and off the ice. 
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