By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Longtime Hudson High School Boys Hockey Head Coach Mike Nanartowich has stepped down from his position, HHS Athletic Director Jessica Winders announced, Feb. 18.
Breaking on short notice immediately following his team’s final home game in this year’s abbreviated winter sports season, this news is sending shockwaves through the Massachusetts hockey community.
“What we will miss most is the positive impact [Nanartowich] has had on hundreds of young men spanning more than three decades; molding them, mentoring them, teaching them and pushing them to be the best version of themselves, now and in the future,” Winders wrote in a tweet.
A long career
Nanartowich started coaching in 1988, five years after he, himself, graduated from HHS.
Promoted to the head coach’s job in 1989, Nanartowich then led his team on a journey culminating in a state championship in 2012. Outside of that, he racked up over a dozen conference titles and four state championships.
Well known as a coach, a player and as a referee, Nanartowich opted to bid his team a quiet farewell, this year.
“The program goes on with you, the program goes on without you,” he said in an interview, Feb. 19
A late decision to retire
Speaking with the Community Advocate back in December, Nanartowich broached the topic of retirement, but did not offer any clear timeline.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.
As a result, Nanartowich’s now former players say they were surprised when their coach delivered an emotional speech announcing his retirement two days before Winders made the news public.
“I was shocked to hear Coach announcing his retirement,” Senior Tim Gray wrote in a message to the Community Advocate, Feb. 19, responding to all this. “I think we all were.”
He elaborated, writing “Coach cared so much about Hudson hockey. I’m thankful to say I was able to play for him, and that we got to end our careers together. Coach helped me grow, not only as a hockey player, but as a person too.”
While Nanartowich made the decision to retire roughly halfway through this past season, he noted that he did not want to be a distraction for his players who already had their plates full.
“I’ll take some pride in this year and being with this group of guys that have gone through so much especially with the pandemic,” he said.
A future at HHS
Though he’s left the boys hockey bench, Nanartowich still works as an HHS science teacher. He also helps coach junior varsity baseball at Hudson and plans to continue in that role going forward.
As for his replacement in the hockey program, he’s got his eye on one man for the job.
Tom Fahey, a member of Nanartowhich’s 2012 state championship team is already serving as an assistant coach. Nanartowhich says he hopes school administrators will reward Fahey for his service to the team and prolong a tradition of “Hudson guys” shepherding the Hawks.
“They can expect me to be quite vocal on who I think should replace me,” Nanartowich said.
(Photos by/Dakota Antelman)