In sports, as in much of life, it is the small, imperceptible things that happen in the background, behind the scenes, that separate the good from the very good and make the best that much better.
It’s not always the action in the center of the rink that decides the outcome of the game, but what takes place on the fringe of the ice or behind the bench that can lead a team to the winner’s circle. For Harvard women’s hockey, one factor that has helped bring the team into national prominence is the unrelenting, though quiet support of Tony Grasso, the unofficial “Official Trainer.”
“He’s a lot of our spirit” claims women’s hockey coach Katey Stone, “The kids love him here.” Grasso, who has been behind a bench encouraging kids and providing support to teams for over 17 years, from pee-wee up through the professional ranks, has been at Harvard for the past year and a half, and was with the Crimson last year when they won the National Championships.
It’s not only knowledge of the game that Tony provides this team. “He’s a great asset to our team,” comments co-captain Angie Francisco, “He’s a two-time war vet, and on road trips or when we have extra time, he’ll explain to us what it was like to serve. He’s pretty inspiring.”
“The guy doesn’t sleep,” Francisco goes on, recounting how the 74-year-old Grasso drives up from Rhode Island for games, and stays up late on road trips making sure everything is ready for the next game.
“He has a lot of energy” says coach Stone. And it is that energy, the encouraging word, the pat on the back, the willingness to sharpen a skate in the middle of a period that is transferred in more ways than one to the kids in the program and helps them be the best they can be.
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