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Hear from Past Players on their experience playing for the FV Hawks

Anthony Chiefari - Geneva High School (2020)

My name is Anthony Chiefari and I played goalie for the Hawks from my junior year to my senior year at the Varsity level. I played club hockey for the Geneva Cyclones, Chicago Blues, and Naperville Sabres before coming over to the Hawks. Playing hockey for the Fox Valley Hawks was one of the best decisions I have made as a hockey player and I wish I would have joined sooner. 

Going into it, I was skeptical about the level of competition and competitiveness. As a former Central States/AA player, I was looking for that same level of intensity but with less traveling and stress. Very early on, any doubts I had were put to rest. During my last year of AA at the U15 level, I was starting to lose my love and passion for the game. I came very close to quitting; thank god I didn’t. Playing for the Hawks allowed me to have fun playing the game again while still feeling the same sense of urgency and intensity that I felt at the AA level.

Another great thing about playing for the Hawks is that you get to be teammates with people from your high school/area- something that I never got to experience before at the AA level. I am grateful for having the opportunity to play hockey with some of my closest friends while also making friendships that will last a lifetime.

I would love to see Illinois high school hockey grow into what Minnesota high school hockey is today. The only way that happens is if skilled hockey players around Illinois decide to go against the stigma that high school hockey is less competitive than AA/AAA hockey. After several consecutive strong runs in the state tournament, the Hawks are on the verge of being one of the most well-respected combined clubs in the state. If you are on the edge of whether you should play for the Hawks or not, I guarantee you will enjoy playing the game so much more for the Hawks.

If you do not want to give up AA/AAA hockey, double rostering is totally manageable- the coaches are very supportive and understanding. They understand what is like to be a high school student-athlete. All they ask for is communication and honesty. I would recommend playing hockey for the Fox Valley Hawks for anyone who wants to enjoy playing the game at a high level without the stress of traveling around the Midwest every weekend.

Joe Widick - St. Charles East (2021)

My name is Joe Widick and I was a goaltender for 4 years at the Fox Valley Hawks. I played two years on the JV one my freshman and sophomore years. My junior and senior years I played on the Varsity one team. I had a great experience playing with the Fox Valley Hawks, I grew as a goaltender and a person there.

Another great aspect of the Fox Valley Hawks is you get to have a great hockey experience while still having a social life and time for school. Personally I know kids that when fall time rolled around they become all about hockey until March because they are traveling every weekend out of state. The Fox Valley Hawks gave me the best four years of hockey like no other organization has done for me. I was able to make lifelong friendships and enjoy competitive hockey at the same time.

This all wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the coaching staff I had, so I would personally like to thank Coach Pete, Coach Phil, Coach Mark and Coach Steve for running a great program. I would also like to note that over the four years the Fox Valley Hawks organization has grown a lot because if it was not for Covid-19 the 2020-2021 Fox Valley Hawks Varsity team would have made a great run at the state playoff championship game. There is no doubt in my mind that we couldn’t do it because in the small amount of games played we were able to crush every team on the scoreboard.

Will Kanzler - Geneva High School (2021)

Out of the box, receiving a pass, 1 on 1 with the defenseman. Toe drag through his legs and over the goalie’s glove. Coming back to the bench Coach Mark said “that was possibly the best highlight reel goal ever”. That was the highlight of my short career with the Fox Valley Hawks. In the car ride home after my final game with the Hawks, my dad and I both shared the regret of not joining the Hawks sooner.

My hockey career consisted of NIHL through bantams, Cyclones U15 and U16 Central States, and two years at Sabres U18 Central States. I enjoyed the time going on road trips and playing out of state, like most young athletes do, but the thought of playing hockey for my school was always on my mind.

I can’t stress enough how much I wish I had join the Hawks sooner. The coaching staff used a mistake as a teaching moment, not a time of being scolded or benched. Everyone had an opportunity to learn and succeed regardless of talent level. To any future perspective Fox Valley Hawks players, I highly encourage not waiting until your senior year to play for Coach Phil and the Hawks organization.

Blake Connelly - St. Charles East (2020)

Hello everyone, my name is Blake Connelly. I played on the Varsity team my senior year of high school, and I was proud to be an Assistant Captain on the team. My hockey career began in elementary school, and from 8th grade to 11th grade I played Central States hockey. I did so for the Chicago Blues for three years and during my junior year I played for the Leafs out of West Dundee. I played spring hockey for the Hawks for two years before deciding to play for them in the fall.

After my fourth year of Central States hockey I was ready to hang up the skates and completely turn my focus to golf. I had lost the love for the game. I got a text from coach Steve asking me to come to tryouts in the fall (of my senior year). At first I thought no way I have moved onto golf and have lost interest in the game I loved for so many years. Then my cousin (Owen Anderson) sent me a text to come play for the hawks (I am assuming after Steve told him to reach out to me haha). All I have to say is thank you so much to Coach Steve and Owen for telling me to play. 

It is a complete understatement to say it was the best time I have ever had playing hockey. Coach Phil, Coach Mark, Coach Steve, and Coach Pete allowed me to love the game of hockey again. I was able to play Varsity golf as well as play for the Hawks. I cannot thank the coaching staff enough for being so flexible with my time. We made a great run in the league playoffs and in state. 

I would do anything to lace it up with the boys for one last shift. I can guarantee anybody who has played or will play for the Hawks would not disagree. Come play for the Hawks. I hope to see you grinding out a shift in the third period to secure a win for the team one day!

Danny Shaughnessy - Geneva High School (2019)

 I started off playing hockey in a club league and when I decided to join the Fox Valley Hawks, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Looking back now at the three years I played with the Hawks, I am so grateful that I made the decision to play with this organization. The coaching staff is the best I’ve ever played with. They are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the sport of hockey and know how to train you to become a great team and a great individual player. They know how to push you and will not take it easy on you but also treat the players with respect and want to help you as a player and as a person.

Another concern I had when joining was how good the chemistry would be between the other players in the organization and I. The teams I played with during my time with the FV Hawks were some of the best teams I’ve ever been on.  A great thing about this organization is that each year you move forward you play with a lot of the same teammates and are able to keep great chemistry.  We were all genuine friends even off the ice and I still talk to them from time to time years after playing. Playing with the Fox Valley hawks was the best decision I made during my hockey career.

Johnny Ambrogio - St. Charles North (2019)

Hello future Fox Valley Hawks players, my name is Johnny Ambrogio and I played for the Hawks from 2016 to 2019. I was on varsity for three years and was an assistant caption junior year and a caption my senior year. I also played club hockey for most of my High school career. I started out at the Chicago Bruins and when I moved to St. Charles I changed clubs and went to the Cyclones and by my sophomore year in high school I decided to try out with the Hawks and I never looked back after that.

Through the years of playing different sports and having different coaches I honestly can tell you that I have learned many life lessons playing for the hawks. Life lessons such as: accountability, hard work, leadership, and communication. Those were just some of the very important life lessons I learned from my years as a Hawk.

I was never a person who got into the politics of hockey and neither was my family. The biggest relief that I had when I came to the hawks and decided to call them family was that there was absolutely no politics. I liked this because it allowed us, as players, in the program a chance to compete with each other. Coach never cared who you were, what team you played for or where you came from. The only thing the coaches cared about was allowing us to compete with each other with no other distractions.

When you join the Hawks, as a player, you are the communicator. The parents were not involved and this allowed me to learn the life lessons I learned, such as communication. The coaches at the Fox valley Hawks want to not only create a good hockey player but most of all a great man or woman. The coaches were able to do this by leaving politics out of their club. It was as simple as if you needed to miss practice or wanted to talk about something with the coach you would have to be the one to sit down with him and communicate your issue. It was good for High schoolers to learn this because as a college student your parents are no longer there to hold your hand. 

I had a lot of takeaways from the Hawks but when I was a senior and was the varsity captain a lot of younger guys would come up to me and ask "can I play other sports and still play hockey for the Hawks"? The answer to that question is absolutely you can. I played football and hockey the whole time as a Hawk. The coaches believe that high schoolers should not have to be forced to pick between two sports. They will never ask you to pick one or the other, the only thing they will ask for is communication and honesty. As long as you communicate and be honest if you have to miss a practice they will never be mad at you. During the end of football season and the start of hockey season things would overlap sometimes and occasionally I would have to miss practice because of football. The coaches always supported me and never got upset with me for missing as long as I communicated that I was not going to be there and was honest why. 

At the end of the day I can go on and on about the reasons why the Fox Valley Hawks are a good choice. I truly loved my time as a hockey player for the hawks. I would like to say that when you join the Hawks hockey team you join a community of people that will be your brothers and family. I am two years out of high school and I still go and play pick up games with my teammates, younger and older than me.

At this program you will be able to surround yourself with great people and great coaches and be able to learn and develop as a person and as a hockey player. I can promise you that what you learn from this program will give you a jumpstart compared to many others. To this day things such as accountability, hard work, leadership and communication are all huge personality traits coaches at the next level and even professors are looking for.

I hope you read this and now have a better understanding of what exactly the Fox Valley Hawks are about. I promise you that you will not be disappointed if you choose to become a Hawk! 

Thank you,

Johnny Ambrogio #55

Tommy Purton - Geneva High School (2018)

I really enjoyed playing for the Fox Valley Hawks.  It provided me with the foundation to continue playing the game at higher levels.  Coach Phil and his staff focused not only on the results of the game, but how to play the game the right way, emphasizing skill, strategy and sportsmanship.  I have played hockey for 15 years in several different states for several different programs growing up and I can honestly say that with the Hawks, more than any other team I played for, that the coaches believed in me and put me in a position to succeed. 

The camaraderie between teammates was great too – we were a great group and that togetherness translated to success on the ice.  During my 3 years with the Hawks, each year the team had success, even as we played tougher competition.  During my sophomore year, we had an undefeated regular season.  Then for my junior and senior years, we had considerable success in the state tournament.  So, the program is growing and only getting better.  Obviously, any hockey player plays the game for 2 main reasons – to have fun and to win.  With the Fox Valley Hawks, I experienced both.

Ian Bain - Batavia High School (2020)

In my freshman year of high school, I tried out for the Hawks as a backup plan in case I did not make the U15 Central States team. The tryouts for Hawks were actually a ton of fun and I later made the decision to not even try out for the Central States team. Looking back on it, it had to be one of the best decisions I made in high school.

My freshman year, my team consisted of kids that I had played with in the past on other club teams and some returning hawks players. That year had to be the most fun I have ever had playing hockey. I have played hockey for over 14 years at this point and the Fox Valley Hawks stands out as my favorite. The Hawks never fails to have good leadership and excellent locker room chemistry. I still maintain contact with multiple teammates after leaving high school.

The biggest bonus to playing for the Hawks was being able to balance hockey with school. The coaches are always understanding if something comes up with school but keep the team disciplined at the same time. The Fox Valley Hawks is great for athletes of all talents as it has a place for everyone.

Hunter Christerson - St. Charles East (2020)

Hello, I am Hunter Christerson, I played for the hawks throughout all of my high school career. During the time that I spent on the ice I met a lot of people, from the coaches to the players and have made many friends. Not only did it help me make some new friends at my school, but you meet people from the other 4 nearby schools.

Playing for the hawks was one of the most fun things I could imagine, the coaches were always super nice and wanted to see you get better, its especially nice knowing that they want to win just as much as you do.

The competitive atmosphere was always my favorite and I always looked forward to gameday, nothing compares to stepping onto the ice during warmups and preparing for the game ahead. The FV Hawks have also allowed me to meet some of the people I still talk to and see today, even in college. The program is awesome and I highly recommend giving it a try, you’ll have a lot of fun and meet the coaches that taught me a lot of what I know today.

Connor Becker - Batavia High School (2020)

Playing for the Fox Valley Hawks was the best 4 year stretch of hockey I have ever played and I enjoyed every minute of it. The Hawks are a great organization that taught me a lot throughout my high school hockey career. The coaches are great people who you can develop a great relationship with, and they all love the game. They really helped me develop as a player in the event that I wanted to move on and play college hockey. They taught me a lot, one thing that I am glad they pushed was accountability, because accountability is not just hockey and I feel it helped me grow as a person. I am very thankful for everything that the organization and coaches have done for me, if I was an 8th grader again I would 100% choose the Fox Valley Hawks again without a doubt.

Josh Gadow - St. Charles East (2017)

In the most simple terms, the Hawks organization is the place to go to have fun playing hockey. I grew up playing club hockey at the Cyclones and Bruins until my Freshman year of high school. I made the switch over to high school to avoid all the politics involved in club, and it was the best decision I ever made in my career.

During my time at the Hawks (2013-2017), I made friends from five different high schools in the area that I never would’ve had the chance to meet without joining their organization. It started as a club with one team that got moved down from Varsity to JV midway through the season due to a shortage of players. By my senior year, we had a Varsity team and two JV teams that were very successful. The coaches at the club are amazing! They know that school comes first and that things happen and are willing to work with your schedule. Games are competitive and practices are fun and hard working at the same time.

Playing for this club allowed me to improve my game and allowed me to go on to play at the next level which was ACHA D2. Long story short, make the switch to this organization and your hockey experience will set you up for success on and off the ice.

John Macdonald - Geneva High School (2021)

My name is John “Donny” MacDonald and I played defense for the Hawks for four seasons at the JV and Varsity level. I was also Captain for 2 years during my time at the Hawks. My youth hockey career consisted of playing for the Chicago Bruins, Darien Hawks, and the West Dundee Leafs. The difference between these clubs and the Fox Valley Hawks is their ability to work with individual players and create personal connections to help them reach the next level. 

This also teaches the players important life lessons which are hard to learn outside of sports like overcoming adversity and the value of hard work. Unfortunately there is a stigma in the Illinois hockey community that high school hockey is not “competitive.” This is simply not the case as the best teams I have ever been on were with the Hawks. I encourage all players to consider the Hawks to be their high school hockey home.

 

Owen Anderson - St. Charles North (2021)

For me the best thing about playing for the hawks is the team bonding experience. My junior season I played with my cousin and that year for me was the most memorable, it was the most fun I’d have my youth hockey career! Also for me I was looking for a fun place to play because I have goals in my life past hockey and most organizations prioritize hockey over everything but the hawks coaching staff understands we are busy young teenagers that may need to take off practice in order to do something important for us and our future.

Michael Delsignore - St. Charles East (2021)

During my four years with the Hawks I had fun and made friends while developing my skills. Games were competitive and well organized at all levels. The coaching staff maintained personal relationships with all players and enforced a disciplined style of play. I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences in the program, and I highly recommend incoming freshman, club players, and all other high school age players to consider playing here.

Trevor Kurtzahls - St. Charles North (2016)

One of the reasons that I enjoyed playing for the Hawks was the friendships that I had made with the guys. We were a tight-knit group, and the relationships I formed made it an experience unlike any other of my prior clubs. I constantly found myself looking forward to the next time we got to skate, especially since I got to see my teammates off the ice at school and on ice in the evenings.

Another reason that I enjoyed playing for the Hawks is the coaching staff. Their helpful guidance led to our success as a group and to my individual abilities as well. They would always address us with respect, which is something that I really appreciated.

People often say that high school is a unique time to grow and learn as an individual. I found this to be true, especially since my experience with the Hawks helped me to grow more confident in my abilities and taught me to better communicate with teammates.

I would encourage anyone interested to play for the Hawks because of the opportunity to not only grow your skills on the ice, but also to make great friends and grow as a person.

Matt Steele - St. Charles North (2019)

The Fox Valley Hawks is an outstanding organization and I can’t really think about having played high school hockey with anyone else. I played with the Hawks from my freshman to senior year and loved every minute of it. I went to them with my main goal as improving my hockey skills, but I came out with so much more. Not only was I a much better hockey player, but I was also a part of a great and inclusive family. 

Starting hockey relatively late at the age of 11, it was hard to integrate smoothly into a group of boys that had been together for so long. But with Hawks, it felt like I had been with them for my whole life. Pretty much everyone from the top varsity to the lower JV knew each other, including the coaches. This was really advantageous because it meant a lot of the players stuck together all four years and the coaches were able to not only make the team better, but also it meant that since my teammates and I knew each other so well, we learned how to work together.

By the last season I had played, we were able to make it to the championship and I felt that played a large role in our success. Fox Valley Hawks created some amazing friendships for me, and I met and played with so many awesome people. In addition, having the same coaches was helpful; both because the coaches we have are great and knowledgeable, and because having them for a while allowed coaching styles to settle in and allowed coaches to recognize strengths and weaknesses of each player - where they would help players with what they felt needed help and used their strengths to help the team win. 

Overall, choosing to play for the Fox Valley Hawks is one of my best decisions I have ever made, because of all the skills, great memories, and great friendships that came with it.

Joe Mullaghy - Geneva High School (2019)

Playing for the FV Hawks gave me some of my most memorable moments playing sports. Having teammates from schools around the area gave a fun competition between our rival schools. I met people I never would have otherwise and they became some of my best friends.  The coaches know what they're talking about and I can't thank them enough. Only because of my positive experience playing FV Hawks, I decided to keep playing hockey through college. 

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