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Margarucci finds right fit with USA Hockey position

 

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Kevin Margarucci said the job “just fell in his lap.”

Margarucci, who had served as head athletic trainer and teacher at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument, where he also worked with the school’s athletic teams and helped develop a concussion management plan for the district’s student-athletes, was named USA Hockey’s manager of player safety this past July.

He was assistant hockey coach at Lewis-Palmer since 2006 and had been in his trainer’s role and taught since 2001. Margarucci will remain the team’s assistant coach, but stepped down from his teaching and trainer jobs.

“To be honest, I found the USA Hockey job posting by accident,” said Margarucci, a Buffalo, N.Y., native. “My assistant athletic trainer last season, who was a graduate student, was looking at jobs and she found that one and then I read it. I realized I had the perfect background for the job, so I sent my materials in to USA Hockey and here we are.”

Margarucci, who has more than 20 years of experience as a certified athletic trainer, has been involved in hockey in varying capacities as a player, coach and trainer for more than 35 years. In his new position, he will work with USA Hockey councils, committees, sections and staff, in addition to external constituent groups, in all areas of safety, with a focus on education and research.

Getting the opportunity to work with USA Hockey is an experience that Margarucci is elated to have.

“I just dove right in,” Margarucci said. “There are a lot of different arms within USA Hockey that I’ll be working with, but I’ll be focused on improving safety in the game. I’ll be looking at policies and rules and with a lot of this already in place, it’ll be up to me to see if things need to be updated or changed in any way. I have done more reading and research in the past two months on hockey injuries than I ever have. There is a wealth of information out there, we just have to get people to open their eyes and see it.”

With so much onus these days placed on player safety in hockey, including diagnosing and treating concussions, Margarucci explained that playing the game the right way and the safe way starts Day 1 when players are introduced to the American Development Model (ADM).

“The way the ADM is set up, players can develop their skills while also learning body contact and checking,” said Margarucci. “Skating is still the core skill, but a lot of a player’s development also focuses on positioning, angling and checking. Those skills only transcend as the player gets older.”

Over the course of his career, Margarucci has also worked as an athletic trainer at Sierra High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado College, Maine Coast Memorial Hospital and the United States Olympic Committee. Margarucci holds a master’s degree in athletic training from Indiana State University and a bachelor’s degree in physical education and athletic training from Brockport State University.

He has also taken on key roles with the Colorado Athletic Trainers’ Association over the past 11 years, both as chair of the public relations committee (2004-07) and as part of the governmental affairs committee (2007-15).

Moving forward with USA Hockey, Margarucci hopes his job will keep expanding its levels of productivity.

“As things evolve, I hope to deliver messages of injury awareness to the entire country,” said Margarucci. “It’s important to know that while changes happen, they can’t ruin the integrity of the game.

“In any sport, especially at the youth level, you have to make sure it’s not only safe, but fun as well. That’s the end goal here with USA Hockey.”

— Matt Mackinder