Sandor Finds His Passion for the Ice
Kevin Sandor admits that he didn’t like hockey when he first stepped on the ice as a four-year-old. In fact, he absolutely hated it.
However, Kevin’s feelings on hockey started to change as he continued playing the sport. Now, Kevin’s passion is at an all-time high as he leads the Hand boys’ ice hockey squad as a senior captain this winter.
“My mom brought me skating. I was awful and I hated it. It hurt my feet, and I’m pretty sure I left the ice crying,” Kevin says of his first experience. “My dad played growing up, but it was really my neighbors, the Wiras, who got me to sign up for a clinic at the Yale Whale when I was six years old. I’m not sure if it was the feeling of flying around as I tried to skate or liking the idea of holding a cool stick I could whack a puck with, but I fell in love with the sport.”
Initially, it was the fast pace of the game that got Kevin hooked on hockey. As time went by, he started to embrace the intensity and physical nature of the sport. Now in his senior season, Kevin’s favorite aspect of hockey is competing alongside his Tigers’ teammates.
“We do everything together. Hockey is a commitment. From 2:30 to 6:30 every day after school, you’re with the boys. We’re singing on the bus together, we’re passing a ball around before practice, we’re helping each other with schoolwork,” says Kevin. “It’s amazing how fast we came together and got to know one another. We respect each other and what each member brings to the team. On game days, it’s knowing that every guy in the locker room has got your back and are all working towards the common goal—to compete well.”
That type of mentality has stuck with Kevin ever since his freshman year of high school. Kevin, a defenseman, will never forget his first game in Hand uniform when the Tigers went up against SCC rival Guilford in his freshman campaign.
“The Guilford games are always fun, but my first game against them as a freshman will always stand out. Walking into that game. I was terrified,” Kevin says. “We had notoriously lost to Guilford many times, but we were a new and young team. I don’t think anyone was expecting anything out of us. The team from the year before us finished with a record of 5-16, and we wanted to make a name for ourselves. It was a back-and-forth physical game, and I definitely left with a couple of bruises, but we won 5-4.”
Brian Gonsalves took over as Hand’s head coach when Kevin was a freshman. Gonsalves describes Kevin as an integral part of the team and has enjoyed watching the senior captain develop into a quality hockey player during the past few years.
“I can’t say enough about the person and player Kevin is. He’s been such an important part of our team from the very beginning and us joining the team together has made our relationship that much more special,” says Gonsalves. “Kevin has progressed tremendously in points since his freshman year, and he’s been great both offensively and defensively for us this season. He is a vocal leader on this team, and it’s been a pleasure to coach him.”
Kevin says that he and Gonsalves have hit their stride together during their respective tenures with the Tigers. Kevin appreciates how Gonsalves always looks at the bright side of things, while valuing any input that he receives from Hand’s athletes.
“He knows how to keep things positive and listen to his players,” Kevin says of Gonsalves. “There has always been a pressure on our team and coach to succeed, but this year especially, coach has done a great job reminding us to enjoy every time we’re together and to have fun. He’s extremely dedicated to the team, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know him over the years.”
Hand shook off a slow start to its season and is currently sporting a record of 6-4 on the year. Kevin’s ultimate goal for the 2022 campaign is to go out as a state champion. Kevin believes this year’s team is one of the best he’s played for and that the Tigers are ready to make a run at some postseason gold.
“There is a togetherness and a respect for each other that is amazing. Every kid on the team, from freshmen to seniors, does their part and contributes, and we’re genuinely rooting for one another,” says Kevin.
“We started off rough. The response and growth we’ve had over the past couple of weeks makes me proud to be a part of the group,” he says. “On this team, everyone is committed to being the best teammate they can be and enjoying our journey together.”