After nearly two decades at the helm, Bishop Hendricken hockey coach Jim Creamer recently announced his retirement.
Creamer, a 1985 graduate of Hendricken, took over the club in 2001. The Hawks had never won a state championship prior to his hiring, but have gone on to win six titles since 2006 and establish the Hendricken program as one of the top teams in the state. Creamer has also earned over 300 wins in his career.
“From the time I was a freshman up until I was a senior, he would always push me. Especially my freshman year, he pushed me and saw something that I didn’t at the time. It all worked out and I made varsity and it was all because of him,” said Cam Toussaint, who was part of this past year’s team that won the state championship over La Salle.
Part of Creamer’s program was creating a competitive environment on a daily basis. Whether it was at practice or during games, he expected his players to fight for everything they got.
“At practice, he always wanted you to be doing something. He also wanted you to ask what he wanted you to do, and the more you did that, he grew trust in you. Playing for him was incredible, he always pushed all of us and that is what coaching is all about. He’s for the team and he loved all of us,” said senior Michael Boscia.
“It was tough when I first started as a freshman, I had to work my way up and I wasn’t really a factor every game until my senior year. That is the culture of the Hendricken program, everyone wants a spot and they’ll do anything to get one. At practice, it was controlled chaos fighting for a spot to make an impact. It was that competitiveness that contributed to the chemistry,” added Toussaint.
Creamer is one of the rare coaches to go out on top, as the Hawks claimed their sixth title in March. Trust between Creamer and his players was key, especially during the final period of the game-deciding victory that went to overtime.
“When we scored that goal to force overtime, he told us, ‘You guys aren’t losing this game. I’ve seen this before and there won’t be a Game 3.’ He knew us all and trusted us all, that state championship was unlike anything I had been a part of,” said Toussaint.
Boscia was excited to see his coach go out on his terms and as a champion.
“I was so happy for all of us, we worked so hard throughout the whole year. It couldn’t have worked out any better. Coach Creamer was a smart guy, he pushed us throughout the season because he knew that that is what it would take. He’s a great coach, a great guy, and there was always so much trust,” said Boscia.
The Hawks will be handing the reigns over to longtime assistant coach Mike Soscia, who served 10 years under Creamer. Toussaint and Boscia feel that the team will pick up right where it left off, despite bringing in a new leader.
“Coach Creamer was always a great teacher. I don’t think there will be a lot of change since Coach Soscia learned from Coach Creamer. Coach Creamer has a hockey mind like no one I know so I am sure Coach Soscia will take what he learned with him,” said Boscia. “It was competitive. The way that we played in practice is how we played during games. Coach Creamer taught us at every practice, don’t quit … don’t give up until the clock hits zero. That rubbed off on all of us and the coaching staff. Next year they’re going to come in and be ready to go.”