California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

Leadership at St. Mary’s starts with Brusa, Lichter


Jim Brusa and Adam Lichter are two esteemed individuals at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton that hold down heightened positions.

Brusa is the school’s president, while Lichter serves as the school’s athletic director.


And both are 100 percent on board with not only the school’s motto of “Be who you are and be that well,” but also with the up-and-coming hockey program being headed up by Derek Eisler.

lichter“Athletics are a key component to a well-rounded student in which we prepare here at St. Mary’s,” said Lichter (right). “They are a platform for our students to learn valuable lessons not only in sports, but life in general. While striving to win, students learn about spirituality, discipline, teamwork, leadership and sportsmanship – all of which contribute to their development to become the best version of themselves.

“To be successful in athletics you need to learn from failures and be gracious winners.”

Brusa (below left) noted that the hockey program will allow the school to provide San Joaquin County with numerous opportunities, among them the chance to grow the game alongside SMG Stockton, the Stockton Colts Hockey Club and the AHL’s Stockton Heat.

“It will allow local kids to stay close to home rather than moving away to academy programs or getting in the car after school to travel an hour or two one way to club programs in the Bay Area or Vacaville,” Brusa said. “It also allows us to meet a niche in hockey that is not really being provided in club hockey by building a program that can compete at the AAA level. Tying our school’s mission and hockey together allows students and parents to have confidence that school comes first. They won’t be missing a lot of school time to play hockey. Hockey, like all sports at St. Mary’s, must put the student first.”

Tuition at the school and hockey costs allows St. Mary’s to compete financially and have a big advantage over other hockey academies in cost. Brusa said tuition costs are half the cost of other schools that provide hockey.

“St. Mary’s is a 140-year-old institution that has been built on Christian values and providing a college prep opportunity,” said Brusa. “Today, academics don’t always get much press compared to athletics, but it is academics and our faith that separate us from all the other schools.”

On the hockey end of the spectrum, Lichter said Eisler is the right person to lead the program out of the gate.

brusa“With any successful team, you need a leader that sets the foundation for the program and it is our mission to find a coach who will honor the values of the school,” Lichter said. “Finding a successful coach that will be a mentor to our student-athletes is a priority of St. Mary’s and the athletic department. I feel we have found the perfect fit with Derek Eisler. His 30 years of coaching experience has taken him from youth hockey to junior hockey to the pros and to international teams – talk about an impressive resume. Most importantly, though, Derek is a family man who cares about the well-being of his players and is genuinely passionate about the sport.”

“I learned long ago that great teams and programs are built by people,” added Brusa. “It’s the people that make a program. Derek Eisler is that person.”

As St. Mary’s is a Christian values-based institution, Lichter said that above all else, spirituality will also be the top priority at the school.

“We live by the words of St. Francis De Sales – ‘Be who you are and be that well,’” said Lichter. “We also utilize the John Wooden pyramid of success when working with our athletes as well as coaches. The pyramid emphasizes several key points and at the base of the pyramid is hard work, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm. The time we invest in our coaches as well as our student-athletes is crucial.

“Our faith is our foundation here at St. Mary’s High School.”

— Matt Mackinder

(May 22, 2018)

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