POTSDAM, NY — Two Bobwhites who played a year of varsity hockey together in high school, took the ice together again at Clarkson University this fall.
Tanner Cioffi and Colby Brouillette overlapped at BFA St. Albans during Cioffi’s senior year and Brouillette’s freshman year.
That year, 2016, the Bobwhites secured the Division I state championship.
“My senior was pretty special; I played with my little brother and two cousins,” said Cioffi, “and we beat Essex in the championship.”
Cioffi overlapped with both his siblings at BFA. As a freshman, he played with his older brother Jacob; he played with his younger brother Cooper when he was a senior.
“It was a lot of fun playing with my brothers,” said Cioffi. “My older brother took me under his wing, and I got to do the same with my younger brother.”
Cioffi attended Clarkson University in the fall of 2016. He joined the varsity lacrosse team in the spring of 2017, and in the fall of 2018, he decided he’d try club hockey.
“I was glad to get on the ice again. I had been playing hockey since I was a kid, and I missed playing,” said Cioffi. “I tried out and made the team, and I’m glad I did.”
Club sports allow athletes to continue playing the sports they love without the commitment of a varsity-level sport.
“It’s competitive but at the same time, it’s about fun and playing the game,” said Cioffi.
The team plays two games a weekend, traveling mainly in New York, with two games in Vermont at Norwich and Castleton.
“There are some teams in the league that take the games more seriously than others and have more funding for the club programs,” said Cioffi. “It’s cool to see those schools and how seriously they take it.”
Cioffi felt that his parents and his coaches at BFA St. Albans helped prepare him for the transition to college life, including the commitments he’s made to athletics.
He recalled his years under BFA varsity hockey coach Toby Ducolon.
“He’s a great coach and a great guy, and he looks out for you,” said Cioffi. “He always has good advice for you.”
“He doesn’t care who you are or how good you are, you’re going to be accountable for your actions,” said Cioffi. “It’s valuable in hockey and life.”
Cioffi spoke candidly about the things he took away from his high school years.
“There was a big focus on work ethic,” said Cioffi. “We weren’t the most skilled, but we worked hard.”
“It’s not all about the game of hockey, either,” said Cioffi. “It’s about the people. I really see that now, four years later. It’s a lot about the friendships and the relationships you make.”
This fall, one of those relationships came full circle as Brouillette joined Cioffi on the club team.
“It’s pretty cool that we get to play together again,” said Cioffi. “I pushed him a little bit to come and play. I told him he’d be helpful and he’d fit right in.”
Brouillette, who will play varsity baseball for the Golden Knights in the spring, was also glad to keep skating.
“I don’t think I could get through a winter without playing hockey,” said Brouillette.”
“It’s nice as a freshman to have Tanner here. He was so welcoming when I came to Clarkson. He took me under his wing and introduced me to the guys.”
The club hockey team plays between 20-30 games in a season and even has playoffs.
“The facilities we play at are beautiful. We recently went to RPI,” said Brouillette. “We walked into the rink, and I was amazed! They had a Jumbo-tron and played replays!”
“It’s a big world out there, and I’ve been to places I’ve never been before and seen some great spots,” said Brouillette.
The game played at RPI this fall found the teams tied at 3-3 headed into overtime. Brouillette was put in the game on the first line during overtime and scored the winning goal.
“I picked up where I left off after high school, and that was good to see.”
The years Brouillette spent as a Bobwhite helped him with his college transition.
“High school sports open a door to building relationships in college,” said Brouillette. “I was telling my parents that I know so many people here already between hockey and baseball.”
“Sports have also helped me with time management, which is important in college,” said Brouillette. “Coach Ducolon would have the entire winter schedule ready at the winter sports meeting. He was the most organized person I know.”
Brouillette also thanked Dan Marlow, athletic director at BFA St. Albans, for taking time to help him learn how to look out for others.
“Mr. Marlow always made time for anyone who needed to talk to him about anything,” said Brouillette. “He’s one of my biggest influences, and because of his example, I make time to be with those who need me. He set an excellent example, and I want to follow that.”
As his first semester comes to an end Brouillette reflected on the relationships that helped him get this far.
“I thought college was going to be a whole new experience, and I didn’t know if I’d be ready for it. I’m amazed at how well my coaches, teachers, and parents prepared me.”