Captain Capasso Ready for Final Season
For most prospective students exploring their education options, a full campus tour and multiple meetings were needed before committing to life at Avon Old Farms. When Nicholas Capasso ’23 made his official visit, however, he never left the office of Varsity Hockey Head Coach John Gardner.
That’s because Capasso had spent the last few years visiting his twin older brothers, Anthony and Andrew, who both graduated in 2020.
“I knew the campus because my brothers attended AOF for four years,” Capasso says. “So I had been to games, I had been in the dorms, I even got to see what the old rink looked like.”
Thus, when it came time for Capasso to enter the ninth grade, there was no question where he would attend.
“I always knew. Just how my brothers talked about it; I never heard anything bad come out of their mouths about Avon.”
Unfortunately for all three of the Capasso boys, COVID-19 would disrupt their time at Avon both on the ice and in the classroom.
“After seven years of us going to Avon, this year will be the first graduation ceremony my parents will attend. It will be pretty special.”
This year will also be special for Capasso because it will be his last season playing hockey at AOF, an opportunity that he says he already knows he’ll miss. He knows this from hearing his brothers talk about how much they wish they could come back and play, but also from something he remembers being said by former Warden and Varsity Hockey Captain Gentry Shamburger ’20.
It was Capasso’s freshman year, and the team had just lost to Salisbury School in overtime of a tournament semi-final game. It was a game the team should’ve won, Capasso says. He remembers the terrible feeling in the locker room afterwards, but also remembers Shamburger telling him it was even worse for the seniors in the room.
“That’s the last game you’ll play where you know everyone in the crowd,” Shamburger had said.
“I don’t know why, but that will always stick with me,” Capasso says. “You know who’s watching you. It’s your friends. The Avon Army, there’s nothing like it.”
There is plenty to look forward to this year, including the return of the “Westy Monday” hockey game on January 23 which will be a home game this season, and a senior night game against Salisbury scheduled for February 18.
“We have a lot of talent this year,” Capasso says. “We have a good mix of young and older guys, and the returners are all good leaders.”
Head Coach John Gardner agreed on this point, saying Capasso is one of those good leaders.
“Nick has proven to be a great mentor to the younger and new players on the team, takes his job of captain seriously, and does it with pride. He leads by example and knows the right way to lead.”
He said this, paired with the fact that Capasso understands the program so well due to his longevity at the school, makes him an excellent captain.
“Nick was elected captain by his teammates because he is a hard worker who will do whatever it takes to be successful on the ice. He always puts the needs of the team before his own,” says Director of Athletics and Varsity Hockey Assistant Coach Geoff Barlow ’98. “His brothers had great attitudes and were 'team first' kids as well. All in all, just great kids from a great family.”
Capasso explains the relationship is mutually beneficial. While he gives his all on the ice, his coaches are there to help him improve off the ice as well. At Avon, coaches also serve as teachers, advisors, and mentors.
“You really can’t find that kind of support at any other school,” Capasso says.
Like most Avonians, Capasso is especially looking forward to the Christmas Hockey Classic tournament which begins December 15.
“That’s the highlight of the year. It’s a turning point when the bond within the team grows stronger. That’s where a lot of the funny stories come from that you reminisce about when you come back for a reunion.”
Barlow says he knows Capasso will be ready. “He is a hard-nosed player that outworks most other kids on the ice. Nick is a real competitor.”
Varsity Hockey is off to another great start this season. They have three wins in their first three games with a combined score of 13-1.