Carleo, Byers and Feeney Win AHA Scholarships
The Board of Directors of the Andover Hockey Association is pleased to announce that Andover High School Class of 2020 graduates Sara Carleo, Leo Byers and Michael Feeney are the winners of the AHA’s first annual scholarships for deserving alumni of the AHA youth program. For 2020, the scholarships have been awarded in memory of Louis Stella Jr., a longtime AHA coach who passed away last year. To be eligible, applicants must be a graduating Andover High School senior, have been member of AHA for at least 3 full seasons, volunteered 12 documented hours back to AHA (e.g., volunteer with Learn to Skate program) and completed a 500 word essay on what the AHA means to them and how they plan to use the skills learned as a member in college and beyond.
Ms. Carleo played defense and was a captain of the AHS girls varsity hockey team this past season. She will be attending the University of New Hampshire in the fall where she plans to major in business and play for the women’s hockey club. Her favorite AHA memory is playing in the Heseltine Tournament at Phillips Academy when she was a member of the Mite 3s: “It was my first tournament and we won so I was very excited to get a trophy. Our coaches, Jim Rigazio and Paul Fraser made that year so much fun.” Carleo’s advice to youth hockey players would be to “just have fun - hockey is an amazing sport where you can meet new people. Work hard, particularly on your skating, don’t stress, and have fun!”.
Regarding Carleo, AHS girls varsity hockey head coach Tyler Vigue says: “Not every person has the ability to lead or even the desire to, but Sara has both. It is a trait that has slowly developed during her four years with varsity. She has learned from those before her and has helped pave the way to success for all future players. I could not have asked for a better person and player to fill the role of captain during her final season. There is now a large pair of skates to fill in her place.”
Mr. Byers played forward and was a captain of the AHS boys varsity hockey team last season. He will be attending Northeastern University in the fall where he plans to major in civil engineering and play club hockey. “Looking back, my most memorable experiences were with my youth teams travelling to places like Montreal for tournaments. Of course, the best parts of these trips were never really the hockey but the memories I have of the hotel and such. Getting food with teammates or joking in the locker room, that's what sticks with you,” said Byers. His advice to youth hockey players is to “play the game with passion. Every time you practice, leave everything you have on the ice. Put your heart into everything you do, really, and be creative”.
Mr. Feeney also played forward and also was a captain of the AHS boys varsity hockey team last season. He will be attending the University of Miami, Ohio, in the fall as a business major. He will be fighting for Miami’s boxing team, and also aims to participate in Army ROTC and club hockey. Feeney’s fondest memory of his AHA youth days was also participating in the Heseltine Tournament as a mite, which he thinks is “very touching playing in memory of another individual who has passed through AHA”. His advice to young hockey players in Andover is to never lose their love for the game. He added, “Focus on minor goals everyday and continue to build off of them. Hard work pays off.”
About Byers and Feeney, AHS boys varsity hockey coach Kevin Drew remarked that they were “two great captains” who made him feel welcome from day one during his first season as coach. Regarding Byers, Coach Drew felt that he could not given the team anything more and “left it all on the ice”. Coach Drew noted that it was a “tough break” that Feeney was injured during the season but that nevertheless he was a “great leader” who kept the team together.
AHA President Matt McLaughlin remarked: “We are extremely proud of the first annual AHA scholarship winners as all three winners exemplified what AHA youth hockey strives to achieve – namely, to develop not only great hockey players but great people. All three candidates stressed the foundation and the positive atmosphere they experienced while playing for AHA and how it impacted them personally. They are now old enough as high school graduates to know that not every sports organization cares as much about culture and service as AHA and as a result they were active in giving back and setting an example to the next generation of youth players. We are thankful for the opportunity to introduce them to the game of hockey and are looking forward to seeing what they achieve as they transition to college.”
Mr. Louis Stella Jr. passed away on September 11, 2019, at the age of 74. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for AHA, he was the clinic instructor for 17 years. Besides the pride he took in his family, nothing brought him more joy than teaching the youth of Andover how to skate. Faithfully on Saturday and Sunday mornings in sub-zero temperatures he was at the "cage" to help grow the game of hockey. He was recognized in 1991 for his contributions to the Andover Hockey Association. Until his death, he was regularly recognized around town by the kids he taught to skate as "Coach Lou".
The Andover Hockey Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is one of the oldest and largest community based amateur hockey associations in New England. The AHA organizes and promotes a fun, safe, and developmentally rewarding hockey experience for all Andover children. It is a family-centered organization that places the needs of its members first, giving all players the opportunity to participate to the best of their ability, to develop as athletes, and to grow more confidently into young adulthood in service to the entire AHA member community as well as the town of Andover and its residents.