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Storefront Stories: Nantucket Hockey Academy

Storefront Stories: Nantucket Hockey Academy

Storefront Stories: Nantucket Hockey Academy

Storefront Stories: Nantucket Hockey Academy

Storefront Stories is presented by the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce. Each story features a local entrepreneur and details their journey to success and anecdotes for rising entrepreneurs. 

Nantucket Hockey Academy is an elite hockey training program that helps athletes consistently perform at their optimal level using exercises focused around mental conditioning. With mentors ranging from professional figure skaters to professional hockey players, Coach Will Datilio, a Plymouth State University graduate and collegiate hockey player, has developed hockey players from youth to NCAA Division 1 and Professional Levels. Training begins Friday, July 2, 2021 at the Nantucket Ice Rink. Visit their website for more details!

Q. Please describe your business/service?

A. Nantucket Hockey Academy started as a way to give young hockey players on Nantucket the opportunity to pursue their goals of being elite athletes. The unfortunate fact is that without raw skill development, consistent coaching, and the ability to touch the ice year round, it is very difficult to get to the next level in hockey. We are here to give island hockey players a better chance to achieve their athletic goals. 


Q. How long have you been playing hockey and when did you start Coaching? 

A. Hockey has been a part of my life forever, but I started playing the sport at age seven. My father would not let me join a league until I was a good skater, so I spent ages five and six being taught to skate by professional figure skater Mark Farrington (who tried to persuade me to be a figure skater, which my six year old self calmly let him down easily). After that I continued my athletic hockey career and started to grow the love and passion it takes to become an elite athlete. I ended my playing career at 22 years old. 


I started coaching at the age of 15 and all through my athletic journey. I knew immediately it would turn into a passionate career. My father was a Division 1 gymnastics coach, and my mother was a hall of fame collegiate field hockey and lacrosse player, so my coaching mindset was never far from the people who raised me. When I graduated college with a degree in Sport Psychology I became Director of Player Development at Seacoast Performance Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. At the time it was a brand new academy and as a team we built the program to be a top 10 organization in the country. When I left due to COVID as well as wanting to broaden my horizons, I knew Nantucket, from visiting for over a decade, needed a development program and I wanted to offer my expertise to the island community. 


This year I coached preseason Nantucket High School hockey as well as the Peewee youth hockey team here on island. 


Q. What led you to want to start a hockey academy on the island?

A. When I moved to Nantucket full-time in April of 2020, I had no idea what to expect in regards to Ice Hockey. Island Hockey was something that was unfamiliar to me. To my surprise the amount of talent, passion, and potential I saw in Nantucket’s youth excited me to offer them a service that could potentially give them an athletic career far past youth and high school sports. 


I was really excited for Nantucket Hockey Academy to come to fruition. It has always been something that I wanted to start on my own for the betterment of a community. It’s all I know, it’s what I love, and I know I can give back to the community the most through this faucet. 


Q. To what do you attribute your success?

A. The people I surround myself with have always been the driving force behind my success. Without friends and family, I am nothing. 


My energy is also one of the most important aspects to my success. When a coach brings an energy level that breeds confidence, poise, determination and friendship, it allows a player to buy in and ultimately become better as a moralistic human and successful athlete.  


Q. What mantra do you live by?

A. “Life is too short to be anything but happy.” Whatever it takes, work on what makes you happy. Nothing else matters. The beautiful thing about each stage of our life is that even if it seems like all is failing, it always works out in the end. There is always a light at the end of a tunnel. This is what happiness is, mastering our minds to understand that adversity is a common factor we work against, no exceptions. 


Q. Who is the most influential person in your life?

A. I have to say my father. His old-school assertive method of coaching is washed out and outdated, but it taught me the levels of coaching that are needed to be successful. The fact I could take his wisdom with an open mind, and pull parts that worked for me, forced me to become a coach that was driven by passion and love and not with greed and politics. He taught me that everyone deserves a chance, and that no matter what through hard work and dedication, anyone can achieve their goals. 


All sports aside, he taught me what it means to have a moral compass. Which is the most important aspect of growing up. 


Q. What is the best advice you have ever received in your life?

A. This one is easy. I asked my father if he had any advice for me when I became Director of Player Development at a young age. He responded with “ABN.” Always Be Nice. 


Q. Any tips for someone wanting to start their own business?

A. Work ethic is number one. But a very very close second and third is patience and virtue. Take advice with an open mind, and follow your instincts. 


Q. What can we expect from you next?

A. Building this academy to become Nantucket’s hub for hockey training is a goal of mine, but in the future I plan on opening a Sport Psychology practice that will offer athletes the ability to overcome mental factors in their life that can hinder performance. I’m a firm believer that all sports are 90% mental and I know I can help with that aspect of training. 

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