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Patriots Hockey - A Family Affair

11/16/2018, 1:00pm EST
By RJ Zeigler

Ice Hockey is a family affair – I really believe that. More than any other professional athlete when interviewed, ice hockey players always thank their Mom and Dad for all they did to help them get to the professional ranks.


I’ve played hockey since I was seven years old.  I still do play, just not as well as 10 years ago, but had it not been for the tremendous support and sacrifice that my parents made for me, I would not be where I am today.  I often joke with my Dad that my career training started when I was in grade school.  As the General Manager of the Potomac Patriots Ice Hockey Program, I am committed to making this program and this experience the most positive it can be for our players and their families.  I could not do that without so many parent volunteers, coaches, and paid staff.  This holiday season I am very thankful for all of you.  


With that in mind, I have a special experience going on in our program now that I want to share with you. The Head Coach of the Potomac Patriots U12 AA team is Drew Cohen. I first met Drew when he moved to the Woodbridge area about thirteen years ago.  Drew is a good player, a very good coach, and an even better person.   


Unlike many young players that seem to start so early these days, Drew did not start skating and playing hockey until he was 11 years old. However, he showed a love and commitment to the game that was exceptional. Wanting to continue to excel, he sought ways to improve his skating and stick handling skills. His father, Howie, approached me at the rink one day and asked if I’d be willing to spend time each week to improve Drew’s hockey skills. So, every Thursday morning at 6:30 am, before school, Howie brought Drew to the rink for a 45-60 minute training session. Drew worked hard to improve.


Every Friday and Saturday night, Drew and his Dad skated in the public skate. Howie, who grew up in New Jersey as a New York Ranger’s fan, loved hockey but never had the opportunity to play as a kid. When Drew started playing hockey in our program, Howie started playing adult hockey. So, when Drew worked on his skating skills at our public skates and in my weekly training sessions, Howie was out there, too, working on his skills.


As Drew continued to improve and become more proficient, he transitioned to our travel hockey program. He also played middle School hockey for Osbourn Park, and high school hockey for C.D. Hylton High School. Howie helped the team as an Assistant Coach for both teams.  As Drew’s skills continued to improve, he won a position on the Washington Little Capitals U14 team and skated with them for two years. Howie was right there with him, either as a fan or helping as an Assistant Coach when needed. 


Drew and his Dad continued to share this experience together as Howie attended every game Drew ever played regardless of the time, cost, or distance of travel. This partnership continued as Drew played for the Potomac Patriot’s Junior Program and for the Christopher Newport University D3 Club Ice Hockey Team. Howie was at nearly every game whether played in Virginia, the Northeast, Midwest or somewhere in the Southwest United States.


So here we are today, and it’s very fitting that as Drew now coaches the Potomac Patriot U12 AA Ice Hockey team, that his Dad is right next to him on the bench and on the ice as an Assistant Coach. Drew and his Dad share a deep love for the game and are passionate about helping young players turn into successful young individuals. They want to use the game of ice hockey to teach these young players about the values and behaviors that will help them be the best they can be as they grow and mature. They also want these young players to develop an endless love for the game so that they continue to play this great sport into their senior years.


I’ve seen some really cool stories unfold in the 23 years I have been here at our facility. I share this story with you because it reflects what I ultimately want for our program – to make it a fun and developmental experience for every player and their families. We ask a lot of the players and their parents – the commitment of time, effort, energy, and money. However, what we want to create for our players is an opportunity to challenge themselves physically and mentally, to develop an inner strength, toughness and confidence that will help them overcome any obstacle they face in their lives. We want this for our players while they have fun and share that experience with the ones who love them the most – their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, and friends. 


Ice Hockey is a family affair and I am fully committed to making the Potomac Patriots Ice Hockey Program a family-oriented program, because thats what we are, a big hockey family.  Happy Thanksgiving Patriots.  




RJ Zeigler

GM, Potomac Patriots

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