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Schwab: Fox Valley Hawks look to build back up

Published: Saturday, March 22, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

The Fox Valley Hawks high school hockey club is looking for a revival, and Phil Gabrielsen’s presence could be a big part of making it happen.

The Hawks – a high school hockey co-op that includes Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East, St. Charles North and Kaneland high schools – lost its varsity status last winter, fielding only a JV level team because of insufficient depth and experience.

That development didn’t sit well with players’ families and the club’s board, and plans to rejuvenate the program included reaching out to veteran hockey coach Phil Gabrielsen, a Geneva resident.

Gabrielsen has 20 years of hockey coaching experience, including eight years coaching at St. Charles East from 2000 to ’08 when each of the high schools had their own club teams. Gabrielsen, who coached at his alma mater, York, in recent years before taking a year off, agreed to join the Hawks, who are based out of Fox Valley Ice Arena.

“It took a lot for me to decide to do it but there’s still something inside of me that wants to coach and it worked out where I could do it here at the Fox Valley Ice Arena, back out this way,” Gabrielsen said. “All that together is what kind of brought me back. I’m passionate to coach the kids from out here and try to build the program back up.”

Gabrielsen said there is plenty of hockey talent and interest around the Tri-Cities. Coaxing those kids to play in a high school setting as opposed to through travel clubs or other organizations is the challenge.

Gabrielsen said preliminary feedback regarding the Hawks’ desire to return to fielding varsity and JV teams is encouraging.

“I think there is a lot of interest getting generated through kids and a lot off talk with kids to other kids playing hockey in this area,” Gabrielsen said. “We’ve heard from a lot of players interested in coming out and playing to get back to two full teams and compete. … It’s going to take a lot of work. Hopefully we can do it in a short period of time.”

In addition to grooming local players, Gabrielsen said he looks forward to working with Dan and Chris Bednarek, both of whom played for Gabrielsen at St. Charles East and will stay on as coaches in the Hawks’ program. Mark Sokniewicz and Pete Garvey also will join the program as coaches.

The Hawks plan to compete in a pair of tournaments this spring before turning their attention to the fall season. The Hawks are conducting spring tryouts from 3:50 to 4:50 p.m. Tuesday and from 5:40 to 6:40 p.m. Wednesday at the Fox Valley Ice Arena. 

Burlington Central ’03 team to be honored: The 2003 Burlington Central football team will be recognized April 13 as inductees into the Burlington Central Athletic Hall of Fame.

The 2003 Rockets finished 11-1 and will become the first football team to be inducted into Central’s hall of fame. The Rockets advanced to the IHSA Class 4A quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by Driscoll.

“In my 29 years of coaching that was best team I have ever been associated with,” former Central coach Dave Smith, the current coach at Dixon, said in a news release. “They were excellent in so many different phases of the game. It was like being in heaven coaching those guys.”

Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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