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Academics a major part of growing program at St. Mary’s

 

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For the hockey players at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, the school has gone the extra mile this year to churn out the next group of well-rounded individuals.

St. Mary’s has provided tutors for the hockey team, as well as study hall four days a week, giving the players an extra hour to do schoolwork or get help. Jacki Montijo, a St. Mary’s math teacher, presides over study hall. Once the team starts traveling, Wendy Petroni, a teacher with the Oakdale Unified School District, will go with them and hold study hall during away games.

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“Academics is No. 2 at St. Mary’s behind spirituality,” said Adam Lichter, the school’s athletic director. “Academics will help these young men have an opportunity to compete at the collegiate level someday. At St. Mary’s, we believe in the student-athlete.

“It is refreshing to see the time management skills that are utilized by our players. They have a set schedule to help guide these young men. They have great host parents that understand the importance of balancing academics and hockey.”

Ginger Tabora serves as the hockey team’s manager and is responsible for arranging travel transportation, accommodations and meals. She keeps track of the team budget provided by the school, organizes team fundraisers, communicates with the team and their families, handles social media and performs administrative duties for the team pertaining to the ADHSHL, CAHA, and NAPHL.

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“But at the end of the day, the most important part my job is to make sure my players are happy and have a good experience,” Tabora said. “First and foremost, St. Mary’s is a college preparatory school and has been educating high school students since 1876. Their priority is to provide an excellent academic education in a spiritual environment. They want to instill the value of education, faith, and community service in all their students.

“Athletics is important to St. Mary’s because it allows the students to develop leadership skills, time management skills, and work in a team environment. It’s essential for them to be the best student-athletes they can be. Many of them aspire to play college-level sports, so they’re very aware that it’s imperative to perform well academically and athletically.”

Lichter added that he has seen academics help mold the hockey players into better individuals.

“This program is the whole package,” Lichter said. “Academics isn’t just science, math and English. We offer electives that challenge our students. Broadcasting and band are just two electives that our hockey players participate in. We believe in character building at St. Mary’s which leads with spirituality, academics and athletics.”

“I think many of them have gotten time back going to and playing for St. Mary’s, which has helped them maintain a balance between hockey and school,” added Tabora. “Before coming to St. Mary’s, many of them got home from practice after 9 p.m. because they were commuting anywhere from 30 minutes to upwards of an hour and a half to get to and from the rink. Now, they all live in, go to school, and practice and train in the same city and no longer have long commutes. On most days, they are home by 6:30 p.m. at the latest, which allows them to eat, do homework, and sleep at a decent time.

“Academics have taught them how to advocate for themselves, manage their time accordingly, and become more responsible as a whole. They push and support each other, not just with their sport, but with academics as well.”

Facing challenges head-on has also been a point of pride for Lichter.

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“They have to make very good use of their time,” Lichter said. “Unlike the typical student, they have ice time, team workouts, film and chalk talk and lots of travel.

“They are exceeding my expectations.”

Photos/Ginger Tabora

— Matt Mackinder

(Oct. 25, 2019)