The story, so it goes, is that the young Bill Antonucci, in the early 1960s, was an enthusiastic basketball player-that is, until the day he was seen skating by Pop Whalen, Brewster Academy’s legendary hockey coach. Bill, that day, had laced ’em up for a turn on the school’s outdoor rink.
“Hey, Antonucci. Put away your basketball. You’re gonna be a hockey player for me, now.”
Those, of course, weren’t Pop’s exact words, but his message that day did, indeed, mark the beginning of Bill Antonucci’s dedicated hockey life. For those next four seasons, he was a varsity forward on Pop’s teams. In his junior year he scored 37 points, averaging 2.85 points per game. In his junior and senior seasons, Bill also skated with the fabled Laconia Lakers, a teenager taking a regular shift with “the big guys.” In fact, the 1963-64 Lakers won the Granite State Hockey League championship. In 1965, he went off to Colby College and kept on playing. Graduation came in 1969, followed by a hitch in the US Army.
Then, after arriving home, began the stunning chapter of his hockey history, packed full of hard work and accomplishment on behalf of others, especially youngsters. In the early 1980s, the Back Bay Youth Hockey Association was born. Bill was one of the founders, and over time he served as secretary, treasurer, vice president, president, plus coaching coordinator. Oh, yes. He worked behind the bench, too, coaching mites, squirts and peewees (but not all at one time.) Several state championships resulted. He even found time to serve a couple of seasons as assistant coach at Kingswood High School, later founding The Friends of Knights Ice Hockey. Perhaps his biggest single community contribution was the erection of the local rink. Fittingly, it was dedicated (January 7, 1989) as the Paul “Pop” Whalen Ice and Arts Center.
Before and after that golden evening, a lot of hard work was needed to find money. It took several hundred thousand dollars. Bill was project chairman and to raise funds he helped organize the Kingswood Klassic pro-am golf tournament that for three years brought LPGA members to town. Some days, he even jumped into the trench, literally, to help install some of the refrigeration pipe.
In 1992, he became executive vice president of New Hampshire Amateur Hockey, and the following year became president. Then came a 10-year run (1995-2005) as USA director from the New England district. Later, when USA Hockey began its developmental program, Bill served as general manager for all New England Select Teams, largely working behind the scenes with travel arrangements and caring diligently for all other logistical considerations. By the time 2005 rolled around, Bill, for a second time, stepped up as New Hampshire Amateur Hockey’s executive vice president and served until the spring of 2007.
So what is he doing now? This very minute? Well, he’s on the board of Back Bay Youth Hockey Association; he’s still president of The Friends of Knights Ice Hockey; he still coaches youth hockey; and he’s still New Hampshire Amateur Hockey’s president. He’s a special man!
Bill Antonucci – Class of 2008.
Please welcome Bill Antonucci.