USA Hockey Recognizes TCE Coach
If you picked up your October issue of the USA Hockey Magazine, you might have recognized a familiar face. Our very own Coach Mike Vaccaro is capturing national attention in the hockey world for translating his service off the ice to volunteerism with a hockey program for wounded warriors.
In 2006 during an Iraq deployment, Vaccaro was injured and earned a Purple Heart. During a visit to a local veteran’s hospital, he learned of a hockey program for wounded warriors and was inspired to help coach. The name of the program is Warriors Hockey and it is one of the fastest growing disciplines in USA Hockey. The mission of Warriors Ice Hockey is to provide our injured and disabled US military veterans a venue to play the sport of ice hockey. Players’ injuries run the gamut as do their level of experience on the ice prior to serving. In a January article from the Army News Service, Coach Mike describes being a part of Warrior Hockey as a stress release, “When I’m on the ice, no matter what happened before, everything dissipates.” It is this and the feeling of support amongst the players that attracts veterans to the program.
Coach Mike is one of the co-founders of the Capital Beltway Warriors team (a local wounded veteran team). He spends several hours a week helping with this team as well as others. His involvement in Warriors Ice Hockey doesn’t end there. He is also involved yearly in helping to select the national sled team at a camp in Buffalo (his old stomping grounds). All of this on top of the countless hours he gives to coaching at the youth level epitomizes the TCE mission of “excellence” and “self-sacrifice” as well as placing “the needs of the player above all else.” Currently Coach Mike is the 14U Gold head coach and has three children in the TCE program. If you happen to see him around the rink, be sure and thank him for his service on and off the ice!