OAKLAND, N.J. — It wasn't long ago that Indian Hills hockey coach Anthony Tabbacchino of Oakland played for the Braves.
Tabbacchino, 25, graduated from Indian Hills in 2008. He became the head coach two years ago after another two seasons as an assistant coach.
He said it's more of a pro than a con being one of the younger head coaches around.
"I think it's good from the kids' perspective they have someone they can relate to a litlte better," Tabbacchino told Daily Voice. "With that comes a little responsibility because you have to make sure you can't be their friend. As much as the kids are great, there's definitely the respect boundary a lot of the kids figure out."
Fortunately the coach said his players never crossed that line. It led to a winning season for Indian Hills this winter at 13-7-7.
Tabbacchino credited a good locker rooms atmosphere and his assistant coaches for this year's wins.
The head coach played goaltender for the Braves. He then played junior hockey with the New Jersey Hitmen and at Monmouth University. He now works as a substitute teacher while continuing his education and coaching.
Tabbacchino comes from a coaching family, but most of his relatives preferred wrestling. His hockey fandom made him a "black sheep" with the family, but Tabbacchino said it's the ultimate team sport.
"The guys really are a tight-knit group," he said. "The locker room is fun. I think that's the biggest thing. The bond between all the kids is second to none."