On December 20, 2011, the St. Anthony’s hockey community lost the face of its program when its longtime general manager Marie Drisco lost her battle with breast cancer. Six months later, twenty years of St. Anthony’s hockey alumni along with the Drisco family gathered Sunday at Superior Ice Rink to dedicate the rink to the woman they simply knew as “Mrs. D.”
“We wanted to bring as many people as together as possible to dedicate a plaque that will hang forever,” Marc Sambach, St. Anthony’s varsity SCHSHL coach and event organizer said. “Everybody coming in and out will always pass by her likeness and remember all that she did not just for the hockey program, but for any player that she came in contact with.”
A common theme kept popping up throughout the Kings Park rink, and that was the concept of “family.”
Frank Drisco, Marie’s husband and St. Anthony’s junior varsity head coach, said his wife would always make any kid feel like one of her own.
“Every kid that came through the doors of St. Anthony’s were like her own kids,” Drisco recalled. “We became one big family. When you think you a hockey family, St. Anthony’s is one of the best.”
Sunday’s rink dedication was coupled with St. Anthony’s annual alumni hockey game. The game, normally held throughout the holidays was postponed until the summer due to Marie’s unfortunate passing. The alumni game served as a way to not only honor Marie, but also to celebrate St. Anthony’s first state hockey championship.
“We felt this game would be a great way to celebrate our win with our alumni,” said current St. Anthony’s general manager Joe Giacolone. “ Its also for our alumni to remember Marie for everything she has done with this organization to get us where we are today.”
The game drew about 40 former players with alumni ranging as far back from the class of 1989 to as early as this year.
The most recent alumni, former captain James Mazza and member of the Friars championship team, highlighted Marie’s leadership abilities.
“She would be around the rink and motivating us 24/7 and always tried to get the best out of us,” Mazza said. “She really taught how to be a leader. She was a woman, but she led a whole bunch of boys. She was a phenomenal person.”
“Marie was a wonderful person,” said Bob Lund, a member of the class of 1989. “You could always count on her. She’s a great manager and loved all her kids, which she lovingly referred to them as her ‘boys.’”
The result of the game? Meaningless.
The purpose of the game? Meaningful.
The atmosphere of the game? A family reunion.
“Marie treated everybody the same,” Sambach said. “It didn’t matter if you were the number one player on the number one team, or you were just starting out.
“She went out of her way to make everybody feel welcome.”
Just like a true family.