EXETER, NH -- From Massachusetts high school hockey to a NCAA championship, to becoming a junior hockey pioneer, a NHL scout and getting the Seacoast College Prep program off the ground, Mike Addesa’s done it all in hockey.
He also knows there’s so much more to life – especially when you are the grandfather to 13 loving and active grandchildren, alongside their equally loving grandmother Mary.
“As the 2017-18 season has concluded, I have decided to leave the Seacoast Spartans organization, as I want to make a greater commitment to my 13 grandchildren,” said Addesa, who was the Seacoast College Prep Director for the first three seasons, since it was founded in 2015.
“I have missed going to a lot of my grandchildren’s youth activities. I recently went to my granddaughter’s play and realized how much I’ve missed – youth hockey games, soccer games, grandparents’ days at school. Our family has a place on a lake they all like to come to visit, and sometimes I’m there and sometimes I’m not.”
The world of hockey could not thank Addesa enough for his contributions. After graduating in 1966 from College of the Holy Cross, where he played football, hockey and baseball, he got his first coaching jobs the very next academic year with Stoneham High School’s football and hockey teams. He was then head coach with St. Mary’s (of Lynn) and Randolph High Schools, going 72-7-1 in five years at Randolph.
His college coaching career began at his alma mater in 1974, where his Holy Cross teams amassed a record of 50 wins and 29 losses.
He was then hired by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Having rebuilt the Holy Cross program, he did the same at RPI, pushing the Adam Oates-led Engineers to the 1985 NCAA championship.
To this day, Coach Addesa’s RPI championship team has been many times voted the greatest NCAA Division 1 college hockey team to ever play, and his teams still hold over 95 percent of the NCAA Division 1 records.
He was hired by the Detroit Red Wings as a scout, and helped build that fallen franchise to a three-time Stanley Cup champion with players that he scouted and helped draft.
Addesa then founded the Boston Jr. Bulldogs, which operated independently for many years before joining the former Atlantic Junior Hockey League. Along with being one of the winningest programs in the country, it sent scores of players to the NCAA Division 1 and 3 ranks.
In 2010, after the sale of the Bulldogs, he joined the Calgary Flames as NHL scout and helped to rebuild that team towards its first Stanley Cup playoffs berth in 10 years. He worked the last three seasons as a Quebec and Eastern U.S. colleges scout for the Vancouver Canucks.
Addesa’s love of mixing the worlds of hockey and academics found possibly its greatest wedding in the year of 2015. He still remembers the day he met and instantly befriended the Seacoast Spartans ownership group. It wasn’t long before he realized that all parties shared the same player development and enrichment philosophies.
“The ownership group had just purchased The Rinks at Exeter (N.H.) and the Seacoast Spartans youth program. We talked about another program within the Spartans organization that could wave the banner for the entire program and help youngsters, through their hockey development, get the opportunity to go to college.”
It’s been three years of working alongside the team in Exeter and Addesa said it has been an extremely rewarding and – even with his experience – an eye-opening, educational time for himself.
When Addesa joined the Spartans, the youth organization reached as high as the U12 level. Addesa immediately began working with Kurt Mallett, the Director of Hockey Operations for the Spartans program and The Rinks at Exeter. Together, they worked to give birth to the first Seacoast college prep program for players 20 years old and younger.
In addition to a full-season hockey experience, the Spartans added, and greatly encouraged the utilization of, online schooling for all of their players.
“We have now had three years with the college prep team at the top level, and we have accomplished a tremendous amount in that short time. We have sent a substantial number of players to NCAA college hockey, so what we have done really meets our goals,” said Addesa.
Since that first year, the Spartans added an Under-18 team in Year 2, and in this recently completed Year 3, they added U16 and U14 teams, giving the Spartans organization every step available for players from Mite up to the final level of preparation for college hockey.
They have added these younger teams with a full sensitivity towards New England high school hockey. The Spartans have never aimed to take players away from the scholastic hockey experience, but have rather forged new and lasting relationships with high school hockey coaches that have opened up opportunities for advancement for those players after graduation.
“We were hoping to work hand in glove with high schools, and that was the reason we moved Kurt Mallett from coaching our oldest group to the U16 program. We felt Kurt was the right person to deal with the sensitivities of the introduction of this U16 program,” Addesa added.
Addesa said that he already misses his day to day relationship with Mallett.
“He is an incredible human being, in my opinion. I would describe him as selfless – one of those very rare people who wants to serve everyone he comes into contact with before serving himself,” said Addesa. “He always made every effort to lighten my workload when his load was already unbelievable. He is a great family man, who is committed to the Mallett family, while also being committed to the Seacoast Spartans’ student-athletes.”
He was also grateful to get to know Greg Hathaway, the Spartans’ strength and conditioning coach – Addesa sees him as an up-and-coming talent in the hockey world, as it pertains to strength and conditioning.
“The ownership group built a state-of-the-art fitness center within the rink. Within that facility, you can start with very non-complicated physical activities for the Seacoast players, and as they get older, move them into the more advanced strength and conditioning work,” said Addesa. “This gives the Seacoast College Prep program a special attribute that is not available within many other programs of its type.
“Running this facility, Greg Hathaway is a terrific guy and a consummate professional. His caring for everyone who crosses that threshold, along with his knowledge of strength enhancement, flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic activity, and great knowledge of nutrition, has helped the Seacoast Spartans become a program that has gone above and beyond for student-athletes in the area.”
Mike Addesa has left an indelible stamp on the Seacoast Spartans program, as well as on the long line of programs he helped change for the better over four decades.
“We truly appreciate the dedication, expertise and passion that Mike brought to the Seacoast organization,” said Mallet. “We look forward to continuing what Coach Addesa helped us build and assisting hockey players with their own college hockey ambitions.”
“It’s been an unbelievably tedious three years,” he said. “At times, it was like having six full-time jobs, but it seems to have gone by very quickly. I feel awfully good about what we have accomplished over that three-year period. There is a great foundation to a beautiful house to continue to be constructed within The Rinks at Exeter and within the Seacoast Spartans program.”
Last April, the Addesa family purchased the legendary Hockey Night In Boston program, which has long been the foundation of showcase tournaments in the New England area. With the growth from boys high school to girls high school and boys junior high school programming, Coach Addesa is anxious to join his sons as a consultant in their new business endeavor.
For now, it is time for him to make a greater impact on the people he cares about the most, his wife Mary, his five children, their marriage partners, and especially his 13 grandchildren.
“You’re only around so long,” he added. “It’s time for me to spend more time with my family.”