Needham has named Jamie O’Leary its new boys’ hockey head coach. A Needham native and grandson of former Rockets coach John Chambers, O’Leary takes over for Mike Bertoni, who resigned from the position in April.
O’Leary, a former Boston College standout, most recently held the head coaching position at Walpole for three seasons, ending in 2012.
Here are a few takeaways from O’Leary, after a telephone interview with ESPN Boston today:
On taking over Needham’s program: “Growing up in Needham with my grandfather being the coach there for so many years (1961-77) and idolizing those guys that played there, it’s really special for me. When I went over his house, he had pictures of [Robbie] Ftorek on the walls, Cap Raeder, all those guys. So now to be able to live that dream, growing up, of always wanting to be a part of Needham High School hockey, it’s really special to me.”
On returning Needham to being a state/Super 8 power: “Obviously Bill [Guisti] had good success, they had some great teams going there. And I think the expectation is to get the team back there and I’m looking forward to being a part of that. They’ve done a good job of bringing kids up who want to stay in Needham and want to play, so hopefully, with some stability in the coaching ranks at this point, those kids will trust and know that I’m not wanting to stay there for a year or two. I want to build something there like my grandfather had and I hope that kids will want to be a part of that rebuilding process. There’s a good foundation in Needham where kids want to play hockey because of the success that they’ve had and the ability to play at high level.”
On what he learned about coaching from his grandfather: “My grandfather taught me to play hockey and I was fortunate to have a pretty good run myself. A lot of the things he taught me are the things I preach. Hockey can be broken down into a simple game with basic skills, being aware on the ice, and that’s how I like to coach. You take kid’s strengths and try to teach them how to be a pure hockey player – to move the puck, and skate, and the fundamentals of the game. It’s a huge honor for me to be able to take what my grandfather taught me and pass that on to the next generation of Needham hockey players.”