Why are colleges such as Dartmouth, Wake-Forest, Colby, Northeastern, Bentley, Hamilton, and more looking to The Winchendon School? Is it the academics, the athletic conditioning program, the coach, or a combination of all three?
By Bradley Bigelow ‘21, Summer Intern
Bradley Bigelow ‘21 is interning in the Marketing Department of The Winchendon School as a videographer and video editor. Recently, he was at The New England Sports Center to record an interview with Jeff Pellegrini, Director of TWS Hockey Development | | Girls’ Head Hockey Coach. We asked him to write about the experience. You can learn more about Bradley here and TWS Hockey here.
After coming to the New England Sports Center, we were amazed by the sheer size of the complex: 10 ice rinks, multiple restaurants, and even an arcade. Navigating our way to the correct rink, where we took our seats, one of our upcoming stars for the girls’ hockey team Zoe ’22, recipient of the Jason Ritchie Hockey award in 2020, took to the ice- who was then joined, unexpectedly, by her teammates Kaylen ’22 and Rhea ’23. Their team, with maroon jerseys on, played an exciting match, truly showcasing their skill and previewing an exciting season for The Winchendon School’s Girls Hockey team this winter. In the end, Maroon came out with a win adding to a record of 4 wins and 2 losses in their tournament.
After the game, and a brief lunch, we met up with the players and our brand new Girls Hockey Coach and director of the TWS Hockey Program, Jeff Pellegrini. Pellegrini has experience in coaching both college and prep level teams: “I’ve been lucky enough to be able to coach college hockey for 18 years. And then the last three years I spent coaching at the prep school level. So experience wise, looking at about 21 years in the game, incredibly exciting to be able to make the transition back to the women’s game, I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to work at Harvard… I was able to go to Northeastern and spent seven years at Northeastern, and we were able to build some, some really special teams and programs.”
When asked what drew Pellegrini to joining our community this is what he had to say: “the size of the school… was perfect, the location was perfect. And then class size, I think he has a lot to do with it as well… my wife’s a teacher, she’ll be teaching [in the] winter as well. She was excited about the class size. And I just think that you know, to be able to have a gorgeous rink that we have on campus, and to be able to use that every single day to improve our ability on the ice is was something that I was looking for and watching and had everything, every possible thing, that you needed to tick off of our list…This is a really special spot. And now that we’ve been able to step foot on campus… we cannot wait to get going.” Jeff’s wife, Tiffany, will be joining the Humanities department this fall as a teacher.
In seeing our players work their magic on the ice, and in getting to know “Coach”, we recognized the potential of next year’s hockey team. Pure talent radiated off of our players, knowledge, and strategy radiated from our new coach, and love for the game beamed out from all of them.
See for yourself!
WINCHENDON, MA: The Winchendon School has named Jeff Pellegrini as Director of Hockey Development and Head Girls’ Coach Hockey. Coach Pellegrini will be joining The Winchendon School community over the summer.
Jeff Pellegrini will arrive at The Winchendon School from Shattuck-St. Mary’s where he has been coaching since the fall of 2018. Previously, Pellegrini racked up 15 years of NCAA Division I and Division III collegiate coaching experience. His experience includes six years coaching women’s hockey at Northeastern University and guiding the Huskies to the program’s first-ever Hockey East Championship (2018). His experience developing players means he will not just take the reins of the varsity girls program, but he will also help drive broad program development, including recruiting and development of all players across The Winchendon School’s teams. He will also be responsible for guiding the mentorship of our hockey coaches. With Jeff, we expect The Winchendon School’s programs will be consistently ranked among prep school programs, especially for those student-athletes who are seeking both Winchendon’s style of highly personalized and fully immersive learning and the opportunity to play and be recruited at the highest levels.
In discussing the announcement, The Winchendon School’s Executive Director, John Kerney said, “Jeff brings terrific experience and a great reputation to Winchendon.”
In a joint statement, Director of Athletics, Dan Chretien, Head of School Laurie Lambert, and Dean of Enrollment Management, John Toffey wrote, “One of the most amazing aspects of this search was the very strong references that came in for Jeff – often unsolicited. We heard from legendary college coaches and heads of top high school programs about how fortunate Winchendon and our students would be if we could “nab” Jeff. We are thrilled that Jeff, his wife Tiffany, and their two children will be returning to New England and joining the Winchendon community this summer. “
You can follow Jeff Pellegrini on Twitter at @JeffPellegrini. To learn more about The Winchendon School and our approach to education, contact John Toffey, Dean of Enrollment Management at 978-297-4476 or at [email protected]
In a year not like any other we’ve ever known, The Winchendon School’s baseball team returns to the Small School Championships after a hiatus due to Covid-19 in 2020.
Varsity Coach John Toffey said, “The team played really well against Providence Country Day. In many ways it may have been our best game of the year. We pitched very well- Andrew Chevarie set the tone on the mound. And Ross Dexter was terrific in closing the game out. Offensively, we had many big hits including a homerun by Will MacLean and multiple extra base hits by Payton Manca. The defense played excellent as we did not commit any errors. It is nice to be playing our best baseball as a team at the end of the year. “
Will the team be repeat champions? We’ll find out Saturday after graduation!
Mike Hardman ’17 Debuts with the Chicago BlackHawks
It says a lot about relationships when a father send’s his son’s prep school hockey coach a clip of the NHL debut.
On Tuesday night, Hardman became the eighth Blackhawk to make his NHL debut this season, skating 9:26 of ice time, logging seven hits — more than twice that of any other Blackhawk — and drawing a power play in the second period.
“I thought he did very well,” Chicago coach Colliton said. “Unfortunate we had some much special teams (play) because I thought he was one of our better forwards, but with so much special teams, he didn’t play probably as much as we probably would’ve liked. He was physical, I thought he made some plays, he skated well. Very good debut for him. That was very positive.”
TWS varsity hockey coach, Brian Troy reflected on the game and said, “It was truly an amazing experience getting to watch Michael take the ice for his first NHL game last night. I couldn’t be more proud of Michael and how hard he has worked to earn this opportunity. He brought a ton of energy in each shift he got and continued to get better as the game went on, he certainly looked like he belonged out there with the best in the world.”
The TWS graduate and Boston College sophomore signed with the Chicago Blackhawks on March 30th.
Mike Hardman TWS Class of 2017, just signed an entry-level deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. After a less than stellar first year under coaches Jarrett Sampson and Brian Troy, Hardman dug deep, grew three inches, and gained 15 pounds to come back to Winchendon for his senior year and bring up his numbers to 54 points (24-30-54) in 28 matches. Over at BC, Mike played forward for the Eagles in 49 games, scoring 20 goals, and 18 assists. And, there was that time he was at the Bruins’ Development Camp…
How does a student-athlete grow? We sat down with varsity hockey coach Brian Troy and asked him to reflect on Mike’s experiences to date.
On having a player join the NHL: “He is my first player to turn pro in the US. We have Eemili Jeskanen playing professionally in Finland right now; this is a really exciting time in Winchendon School hockey.”
Mike went undrafted, how did he end up in the NHL? “Mikey has had a number of conversations with pro teams after his time at Bruins’ development camp and during his year in the BCHL before heading to Boston College.”
When did you know he was special? “I knew Michael had something extra in the fall of his last year here. I went to a game of his during the state tournament and he played so well that Jarrett Sampson, and I knew he was going on to do amazing things. We had no clue it was going to be this amazing, but we knew he had the drive to get there. “
As his coach, how do you feel? “I couldn’t be more proud of this kid! He has proven time and time again to not count him out of anything. He has earned every opportunity he has received and ran with it. I have to credit his parents Janine and Mike for raising such an incredible kid. “
Any last thoughts? “Michael and I catch up almost on a weekly basis just because he wants to know what is going on at Winchendon and how everyone is doing. He truly is a Wapiti, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he came back to coach here when his playing days are done.”