Face the Fire and Love the Battle

Two young men credit SHS men’s hockey for success on and off the ice

By Brittni Henderson

For two young Smithfield men, their past and present experiences with one high school sports team taught them far more than just how to win a game. Marco Scotti, 23 and Luca Ragosta, 18, are former and current players on the Smithfield High School hockey team. While the two agree on the fact that they grew as hockey players during their tenure with the team, they point out that the most important thing they’ve learned is simple: how to be a good person, especially off the ice.

Scotti, who graduated from SHS in 2011 has been lacing up his skates since he was 3 years old, joking that he was “basically born with a hockey stick in his hands.” He credits his father as the reason he started playing at such a young age, but it was his talent that kept him going throughout the years. Before playing for the Sentinels, Scotti was a part of the Rhode Island Saints, Rhode Island Blaze, and Northern Rhode Island Vikings hockey teams.

“Hockey has taught me many things about life,” Scotti shares, “but there’s one slogan that I lived by in high school, and live by today. ‘Love the battle.’ Regardless of your situation in life, you will always hit obstacles. Whether they are large or small, you can’t avoid them. You have to stick your nose in there and battle through it. Face the fire and love the battle!”

Scotti is grateful for the positive influence of head coach Robert Jackson, citing that he is one of many young men whose lives Jackson touched with his inspiring coaching style.

“Jackson’s coaching philosophy was never just about hockey,” Scotti shares. “He would constantly relate hockey to real life situations, which was extremely inspiring during my days wearing green and gold.”

The relationship between player and coach continued into the years following graduation. Before the 2014-15 season, a fantastic opportunity arose for Scotti—a chance to come full circle and coach the very team he played for just a few years prior.

“My favorite aspect of coaching is the fact that I am assisting my head coach at my old school in my hometown. It’s extremely heartwarming,” Scotti says. “I also enjoy seeing the young men on the team meet their fullest potentials and watch them progress, little by little, so we can both look back one day and see how far we’ve both come.”

Luca Ragosta has been experiencing this firsthand.

Ragosta, who is a senior on the Sentinel hockey squad, also has hockey in his postgraduate sights. Growing up, Ragosta would go to SHS games to watch players like Scotti in action, eager to get out on the ice one day himself. Before wearing green and gold, he played for the Northern Rhode Island Vikings, Providence Capitals, South Shore Kings and the Rhode Island Saints, to name a few.

Similar to the sentiment felt by Scotti, Ragosta feels like being on this hockey team is unlike any other. While he enjoys the other activities he participates in—lacrosse and tennis—there is a unique bond that comes along with a group of hockey players.

“It’s like a second family,” Ragosta says. “For the most part, everyone gets along.”

That feeling even extends to the opposing teams, such as Mount Saint Charles, which is always one of the fiercest matchups on the Sentinel’s schedule.

“I am friends with guys on other teams, including Mount,” he says. “We might be fighting for that win during the game, but once it’s over, we’re all friends outside of the rink.”

Camaraderie is vital inside and outside the locker room, and Ragosta says that this has helped him to become a less selfish, team player in every aspect of his life.

“Coach Jackson has always taught us how to be good people in the community because everyone knows you. They’re always watching,” shares Ragosta.

At the time of publication, the Sentinels were 12-4, with just a few more games left on their schedule. Check out sentinelhockey.com to see a full schedule, as well as where the boys will be during the postseason!