Castleton men’s hockey coach Bill Silengo recently volunteered for a youth hockey clinic in Manchester for kids of all ages.
“It was an awesome experience and I think the kids had a lot of fun with it,” Silengo said about the clinic.
Silengo organized the clinic with the Rutland Youth Hockey Association (RAHA) and had four sessions spread out over four weeks.
But the camp looked different from a normal hockey camp with COVID-19 still a public safety and health issue.
There were 3 age groups; a 12 under group, a 13 to young high school group, and an older high school group, to help promote social distancing and safety.
“It was challenging because we couldn’t do any one-on-ones or play any games so we really had to get creative, but we did a lot of skill development type drills,” said Silengo about adapting to the COVID protocols.
Those skill development drills included passing, skating, and shooting aspects of the game that are lost sometimes at any level, according to Silengo.
“It was a camp atmosphere or style and it was all geared towards getting the kids better and trying to have a little bit of fun,” Silengo said.
Ten-year-old Landon Minichello of Rutland attended the camp and said that he had a lot of fun.
“I liked the camp and thought the coach was very good. He did simple drills that taught us a lot of edge work. He made the drills fun,” Minichello said.
Minichello came into the camp wanting to improve his skating and working on edges, which was something that he felt he got better at when the camp was over.
“My favorite drill was the edge work drills where we went through cones taking turns around the cones that he set up. It taught me a lot, it taught me how to skate on my edges better,” Minichello said, who attends the Rutland Town School.
When asked about how Coach Silengo was as a coach, Landon had nothing but good things to say about the coach.
“His coaching was a good balance between serious and fun. That was what made us respect him,” Minichello added.
This is not the first time that Silengo has helped the RAHA community and is a priority for him and his team.
“It’s really important to me to grow the game of hockey in the greater Rutland community and Vermont,” Silengo said.
He credited his team for the work that they have done for RAHA along with other youth hockey programs around the state of Vermont.
“Our guys do a ton of work with RAHA. They are helping with practice, helping pick the teams, they are going to hockey nights with youth hockey organizations around Vermont,” Silengo said.
But do to COVID, the team has not been able to get out into the community to give back just because of the emphasis on safety.
“I’ve made the decision to really careful with our team because our guys are sacrificing a lot this year… to play a somewhat normal schedule,” Silengo said.
The Spartans have the most games scheduled of any east coast Division 3 hockey team now, which is a true credit to the players according to Silengo.
When asked about future community service events for the team, Silengo said that they have nothing planned just out of safety for the team and other teams.
“We want to keep RAHA safe, we want to keep the rink open, and I think the more that you can separate groups the less chance of all facets of the rink shutting down,” Silengo said.
Silengo still has community service as a priority but with the pandemic going on, he wants to make sure his team can play the most amount of games possible because of the work being done by his players.
“While community service is important, we want to make sure we are being safe so we can get through the year” Silengo emphasized.
But once the team gets through this year and everything starts to go back to normal, Silengo said that the team will hit community service hard and help teams all around Vermont as much as they can.
In the meantime, you can catch the team in action a week from Friday when they are planned to face off against Albertus Magnus in New Haven, Connecticut by streaming the game online at castletonsports.com.