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Hungry for more: Hudson Hawks hockey coach’s 30-year run

Mike Nanartowich, center, with his six 2019 Central Massachusetts All-Star hockey players from Hudson High School. (Courtesy: @nanartowich/Twitter)

HUDSON, Mass (BVM) — Hudson High School has had one constant voice leading their boys hockey team for the past three decades – Mike Nanartowich. Coach Nanartowich has been at the helm of some of the best Hawks’ seasons and continues to keep his passion for the game alive.

One of Nanartowich’s greatest achievements with the program was a state title win in 2012. That season saw the Hawks complete a near perfect campaign with a 23-1-1 record and a finals win over Medway. Hudson’s hockey program would bring home their first state championship since 1978.

Nanartowich hopes that his current team can have the same success as that 2012 team. In Nanartowich’s 30th season, the Hawks finished as the third-seed heading into the playoffs with an 11-6-3 record. Hudson was able to win their first playoff game, 7-1, against Leominster High School, but lost their Division 3 Central semifinals match-up to second-seed Nashoba in overtime, 2-1.

“It was a good run for my players and coaching staff,” Nanartowich said. “Like all coaches I wish we had the opportunity to play one more game, but it wasn’t in the cards.”

Leading a program for three decades calls for changes to be made between the different teams. Nanartowich has had to learn different ways to get his message across.

“Every year presents a new challenge in regards to the “team” concept,” Nanartowich said. “I have been fortunate over my 30-years to have great leadership from my captains and more than that, players who were committed to making this program and themselves the best they can be as student-athletes.

What has really been the challenge is finding your team’s or individual’s strengths and teaching those concepts, like forechecking and defensive structure, that put them in the best position to succeed.”

Nanartowich has been coaching the team since he was 25 years old, a position he didn’t always know he would be working. He credits his change to coaching from long-time Marlborough hockey coach, John Butler.

“My main focus was becoming an Athletic Trainer and I took a job at a local high school,” Nanartowich said. “During those first few years, I always felt there was something missing. I spent a lot of time with my dear friend, John Butler, who was a 25-year head hockey coach. I was drawn to the game of hockey even more by his passion for the student-athlete and his desire to build and make his program successful. Watching John those 2 years, I realized what I was missing.”

His passion for the game hasn’t left him since he started out at Hudson High School 30 years ago. He’s happy that he found coaching because it has allowed him to remain competitive.

“I love to scout, watch film, and prep,” Nanartowich said. “My players get detailed scouting reports on just about every opponent we face. Designing practice, going to practice and teaching the game is what motivates me each day. The challenge of playing an opponent and scheming a game plan is awesome, again, I love everything about it.

All I can think about is that team, how I can put my guys in the best position to succeed. It’s my job to put together a plan to out coach my opponent, I love that process. Competition is a drug and it’s one that has driven me for 30 years.”

Coaching for three decades at one school is no easy feat, but for Mike Nanartowich, his passion for the game has fueled his coaching journey.

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