My name is JJ Santagata, I grew up on Long Island, New York. I am a 23-year-old former college player turned current head coach of the Ames Minor Hockey High School hockey team. Hockey has been the only sport I have stuck with my whole life. Growing up I played every sport but never fell in love with any of them like hockey. I grew up with three brothers and we were all relatively close in age where we would compete against each other in everything whether it was the royal rumble, wiffle ball, or knee hockey we always made it like it was game seven of the Stanley Cup. I have to attribute much of my competitive nature, drive and desire to be the best to my brothers. My hockey journey began when I was 9-years-old, I played roller hockey earlier but that's not the same as ice hockey as you know. (Fun Fact: My first roller hockey goal was assisted by my older brother and cousin, talk about that for a first career goal.) I stared ice-hockey at age 10 by taking lessons with one of the best coaches I've had, Mike Orth. Doing a year of instruction lessons and my coach pushing me to tryout for travel and making the 10U Ice Cats the following year is where this all started. I played for the Ice Cats for 2 years until I moved on. After that I tried out for the Long Island Edge, I ended up making the team and quitting within in two months. I never dealt with such poor treatment from a group of kids before in my life. After I quit the Edge, I quit ice-hockey for a year, stared roller hockey and got invested in roller hockey with dreams of playing in college. Around this same time I was dealing with some major middle-school issues being bullied by my classmates that made it even harder to play any sport. After my good friends father and my mother forced me to get back on the ice for the Junior Varsity high school team in 9th grade I never gave up on hockey again. I ended up playing the JV team that year, winning MVP, going onto to play travel in Brooklyn, NY for the Brooklyn Aviators/Jr. Aviators and making Varsity High School hockey for three years straight. Alternate captaining the team for two-years and having some of the best times of my life in hockey from 15-18 years old. That Aviators team were the best group of kids I've ever met, they were the nicest, most welcoming and friendliest kids I could have been introduced to at that time and age. I cannot thank those guys enough for all they did. I realized too late that I can make something of my hockey career, I focused too much time on hanging with friends and being "popular" that it took away from the focus of the game sometimes. One of the many reasons I have this site is to make sure no hockey player makes the same mistakes I did and looks back in their life with regrets. Hockey has done so much for me I have made it my life mission to give back to this game more than I ever received.
While I definitely did not play to my fullest potential in hockey I still shared some amazing memories and played some pretty solid hockey throughout the age from 15-18 still. Ranging from many camps, showcases, the Chowder Cup, Hockey Night In Boston, etc. I played Juniors for the New York Applecore in high school, during this time is when I realized I may not be the best player on the ice but I am 100% the hardest working and probably one of the smartest players out there. I was not gifted with Sidney Crosby skating ability but I could read plays like no other and had the hockey IQ beyond my skill level. I went onto play four years at Rider University where I had the best four years of my life and best last year of hockey ever. Being a captain my final season for the Rider team made me so thankful for this game, the community, the players, teammates and everything. Hockey has taught me so much and made me who I am today, it has taught me lessons I could not learn in the classroom or from anything else. Either way, I never played the "best" hockey, but as I got older I got better and better and became more and more relentless and driven to be the best I could be. My final season I won the All-MACH conference first team defenseman, leadership award, defenseman of the year for my team, had the best year statistical in my career and noticed it was too little to late that I realized the potential I have in this sport. Which is what made me create this website, to educate, guide, inspire, support and help as many hockey players as I can. I am a 5'8 165 lb defenseman who never was the most flashy player but always had a relentless compete level, insatiable thirst to win and was known for my hockey IQ as a defenseman out there. I attribute a lot of my success to my mother, father, Coach Levin and Roache and Coach Robinson the help of these coaches is what makes me want to coach and help the youth players today as well give back to the game of hockey as much as it gave to me and more, if possible. I hope you enjoy this website and it's content, and I hope if there is any way I can help you, I do. If you ever need anything never hesitate to reach out. I am always here to help guide and support anyone who needs it.
A leader is someone who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.
Follow me on social media!
Email: [email protected]