Maurice’s Monster

by Ryan Kelly, Staff Writer

The locker room was silent and filled with heartbreak. Glen Rock’s first-line right-winger, Anthony Maurice, was grieving over the devastating loss his team had just endured. Maurice’s goal with three minutes left in the third period proved not enough to defeat the victorious Westfield, who would now move on to the NJIIHL state playoffs. The team fought drastically throughout the year but ended up falling short when the teams set to compete for a state championship were revealed without the Panthers. Glen Rock’s season was over, but not Maurice’s. He still had more time on the ice before he would hang up the skates and await the next.

Maurice is a part of two hockey programs. One being the Glen Rock Hockey Association, and the other is the New Jersey Hitmen. The Hitmen season was complete a few weeks after Glen Rock’s, ending with an overtime loss to the Palmyra Black Knights in the district play-ins. This loss had Maurice’s team fall short in qualifying for nationals. Maurice wanted nothing more at the time than to return to Michigan and compete for another national title. Although Maurice wouldn’t be playing for a couple of months, the recruitment process was in full swing.

As a tier 1 player, Maurice was in contact with several preparatory schools that wanted him to bring his talent to their programs. A majority of the schools are in Connecticut including Kent School, Canterbury School, and The Gunnery. Millbrook School, which is based in New York, is another candidate. Maurice’s top school that he would most like to attend is Kent School. “I feel it was a really good fit for me as the coach has come up to me many years in a row now, asking me to play for him. The team has a great reputation and the campus is beautiful,” he said. Even with these benefits, it’s still difficult for Maurice to make a decision. He knows that the verdict will affect how his career as a hockey player continues. Enrolling in a preparatory school isn’t the only option for Maurice. Staying in Glen Rock is a legitimate option and may reveal itself as the best. “It’s really about how I want to adapt to a new atmosphere. I mean, this is my home with my whole family and all my friends who I wouldn’t get to see every day. It’s something I wish I didn’t have to go through. Deciding whether I want to pursue my hockey career at a school like that [Kent] could have a long term effect on me and I have to think about for a while,” Maurice explained.

The decision will be extremely difficult for Maurice and he is aware of the amount of thought and consideration that it requires. It can be overwhelming for him at times and the weight on his shoulders is sometimes too much to handle. The stress that comes with this situation is unavoidable and there are different ways to cope with it. Fellow Glen Rock hockey player Mack Alvino chooses to ignore it completely. “You have to block it out. Because at the end of the day it’s not going to help your game at all. If you play stressed, you play poorly. That’s just how it works. You can’t let it take you over. If it does, then your game will go to hell and everything will fall apart,” he added. At some points in time, Maurice wishes the pressure would all go away. As a junior in high school, it won’t be long until his years as a teenager are up and he wants to live the remaining years to the fullest.

However, Maurice isn’t handling it all by himself. His father does as much as he can to take the burden off of his son. His dad is an avid hockey fan and loves to watch Maurice play. He critiques Maurice’s game when needed and communicates with any school that has shown interest in his son. Whether it’s talking with scouts at games or sending emails to coaches from prep schools, Maurice’s dad is an enormous help in the process. “Since day one he’s been strapping me up, tying my skates, and doing everything he can to be as involved as possible. He helps with the anxiety that I struggle with. And he really just understands the whole game and how everything works. I mean, I call him manager because I really can’t thank him enough for what he does and how he helps me get better every day. He’s partly why I have all these opportunities that I have today,”

Even though it seems to some that preparatory schools only care about talent, they take a player’s education very seriously. At the end of the day, it is a school and their main purpose is to educate their students so they can become successful. Many schools monitor athletes’ grades regularly and make sure they remain satisfactory. It’s not only a hassle for Maurice to prolong his elite play on the ice, but he must also sustain acceptable grades in the classroom. “If you don’t succeed in the classroom, you’re not gonna see the ice at all. And in order to get into these schools, your grades need to be there in order to receive financial aid. Having a brother and sister in college means it would hurt to pay for the full tuition,” Maurice said. When he found out how big of a role his grades play, it only added to the amount of pressure that was already mounted on him. Junior year is a very important year for students and is arguably the most difficult. Standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT become a focal point for students because they have a large impact on where you continue your education. This is also the time that students normally begin applying for colleges. Sending college applications and writing essays is stressful for anyone, but for Maurice, it stockpiles on top of everything he is already dealing with. 

The scouts that have contacted Maurice have proven to be very consistent. They continue to attend his games and see that he is still playing at a high level. Maurice impressed scouts while putting up 53 points on the season for Hitmen that included 20 goals and 33 assists. Since Maurice is a tier 1 player who plays for a triple-A team, he has a big impact on the ice for Glen Rock. Glen Rock head coach, Dean Portas, values Maurice’s play to high regard. “He’s definitely a player that his teammates look up to. I think that he brings an energetic and passionate approach to the game and other players feed off that. You can tell that he raises the level of ability of anybody that he plays around,” Portas said. Those are the type of traits that preparatory schools look for in a player. They don’t only want skill, they want leadership as well. It’s not always easy for Maurice to lead a team as the responsibilities seem to be greater than he had initially thought.

With all the anxiety that comes at a time like this, Maurice is lucky to have friends and teammates that are going through the same process. They help each other make decisions to make the procedure as smooth and effortless as possible. One friend that Maurice looks to during tough times is David Hymovitch. He is a junior in high school living in Arizona. Hymovitch is a former forward for Glen Rock before he moved back out west. He once played for the Panthers varsity team during his freshman year. He is now going to continue his hockey career in the NCAA at Quinnipiac University and play for the Bobcats Division I program. “I know what he’s going through and I know how demanding it is. I went through a very similar thing. The sacrifices that you make can seem excessive, but whenever he needs to talk I’m available. I just wish I had someone like that when I was committing,” Hymovitch reputed. The phone calls come in often. When Maurice learns new information he passes it on to Hymovitch and they discuss the matter together. Maurice added, “Without David, I’d be pretty lost in all this.”

Maurice has to decide where he will continue his hockey career by Apr. 10. He is still unsure whether he wants to leave Glen Rock and enroll in a preparatory school, or stay in his hometown and finish his high school education with his family and friends. Wherever Maurice chooses to go, his career will play out differently than it would have at another school. “The schools offer different opportunities for me and I’m not sure what to do. It almost feels like too much,” he said. Maurice will need as much time as he can get. The right decision is presented before him, but it’s up to Maurice’s judgment to decide where his life as a hockey player progresses.