Scott Corbett Stepping Down As Boys Varsity Hockey Head Coach

David Creed •

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Nantucket boys varsity hockey head coach Scott Corbett has stepped down from the position after four years as the leader of a program that has established itself as one of the more consistent and successful groups in Massachusetts Div. 4 High School Hockey. Assistant head coach Bob Hickman, one of the brightest hockey minds Corbett said he has ever met, will also be stepping down from his role.

“My new business just takes up so much time right now and it is hard on the family those three or four months with going to work then coaching and everything,” Corbett said. “You aren’t around all that much with the time it takes to do it all. I figured this would be a good time to step away at least for a little while and regroup a little bit, get the company up and running. I love doing this too much, so I think I’ll be back down the road in some capacity.”

An emotional Hickman said while he felt he needed to move on from coaching, it wasn’t an easy decision for him either.

“The most rewarding thing above everything is being able to help your players grow as men,” Hickman said. “I did everything I could to help them succeed on and off the ice. I’d like to think I did a good job with that. That is what mattered to me. I’ve coached for many years from mites on up. I’ve grown close with so many of these kids over the years and had the opportunity to coach my kids. There are still a lot of kids on this team next year who I have close relationships with. Coaching has been one of the most fulfilling and satisfying things of my life. I felt like I needed to step away now. I knew regardless of when I moved on, I would be leaving kids who I had great relationships with. You always think 'oh maybe I'll leave after this class graduates' and then a new group of kids comes up who you develop great relationships with too. I've always known whenever the time came where I would stop coaching, it would be very hard for me.”

The Whalers went 42-27-9 in four seasons under the leadership of Corbett as head coach. They qualified for the state tournament each of the three seasons it took place. The tournament was canceled last year (2020-2021), but Corbett and the Whalers made the most of an end of season tournament, winning the Cape & Islands Lighthouse Division League Title against Dennis-Yarmouth 3-1.

Jack Billings will be a senior captain for the Whalers next season and said both Corbett and Hickman have played a significant role in his hockey career.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” Billings said. “Especially Scott, as he has been my hockey coach for most of my life. Words can’t describe how much they have helped and guided me to where I am today. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the time they have put in to help me and my fellow teammates. While I have lots of gratitude for Scott and Bob, I hope that the next coach of our team is able to have as much of an impact as them and bring this team even further.”

Ryan Davis will be one of the Whaler's top forwards as a junior next year and is appreciative of his time playing underneath both coaches.

“Looking back on the season, I can easily see how positive Scott was, and is towards the team,” Davis said. “Scott always had the best attitude towards everyone. Scott’s main point he had to get across this season is that no matter how much singular talent each of us have, it is no good if we aren’t working together to get better and play better. While Bob was more the enforcer, Bob was always the one to tell you that you weren’t doing it right. He wouldn’t bend it at all, it’s just how he wants to say it to the player. I liked that about Bob because it kind of just motivated me to become a better player. Bob was still so positive while being so hard on us. Bob was always cracking jokes in the locker room, just trying to have a good time. That’s just how it was with both Bob and Scott. It was a hell of a season.”

Evan Belanger, a senior captain on the 2021-2022 team, said he couldn’t have asked for a better pair of coaches behind him on the bench these past four years.

“They put 100 percent into our program and it showed this year,” Belanger said. “Only one other Nantucket hockey team has gone as far as we did this year, and we couldn’t have done it without them. Scott and Bob were just as, if not more, invested in our success this season and that helped us go far. I mean we beat the Vineyard twice on their own home ice in one season with these guys backing us. That’s no small feat. They’ve both invested so much time and energy into this program and I have nothing but good things to say about the both of them.”

“Scott, with his new business, has so much on his plate so continuing to coach would be difficult. I am sad for the underclassman continuing Nantucket Hockey the next few years that got to experience Scott and Bobs coaching. Having the pair for my four years of varsity hockey was special. They bought into this team and were a huge part of our family. With that being said, I know next year’s team will do well under Jack, Mike (Culkins), and Griffin (Starr’s) captainship. I want Scott and Bob to know that the whole team is thankful for all that they’ve done for us and that they helped us lead a season that not a single one of us will ever forget.”

The players are sad to see Corbett and Hickman go, and Corbett said leaving the kids is what will be the hardest part of this decision on his end.

“The kids are without question the hardest part to leave,” he said. “It is tough. We build all these relationships, all these bonds, and then seeing them at grad parties this past week you realize how many you’ve grown close to. We are coaching them and trying to make them better hockey players. We want to win games. But we are trying as much as anything to teach life lessons. Bob and I held each player accountable and we had them hold each other accountable. We allowed them to make team decisions. It is really hard to walk away from. We had some really successful seasons and made a lot of memories.”

Starr, who will be a junior, just completed his first season as the varsity's starting goalie. He said Hickman and Corbett have been some of his biggest supporters for much of his hockey career.

“From opening the rink before school for practices and keeping us in shape for the season, they have both always been all in for it,” Starr said. “When I was in seventh grade, Scott would always ask me to play men’s league on Monday nights and he would ask if I wanted to practice with the jv team occasionally. In eighth grade he would always try to bring me up from JV to practice with the varsity when they either had a goalie missing or when they wanted to practice with 3 goalies for certain drills. Ninth grade was sort of a mess because of corona but he still tried to get me to practice with the varsity when there would be a goalie coach or when I wasn’t seeing much action on JV. And this year was when it all paid off. He has done so much for me and I will always remember it.”

“Bob has done a great job at keeping the rink open and letting me walk right in whenever I would play. He would never question me or tell me to leave.”

While this season was Corbett’s last, it also may have proved to be his finest coaching job. The Whalers entered the Div. 4 state tournament as the #11 seed, but were able to go on an admirable run by defeating the Rockland Bulldogs 5-2 on home ice and their archrivals in Martha’s Vineyard 2-1 in overtime on the Vineyard before eventually losing to Stoneham in the Round of 8.

Corbett said he hopes to eventually come back one day as an assistant coach once his business is more established and less hectic. He wanted all of his assistant coaches over the course of the past four years to know that all the success the program has had since 2018-2019 has as much to do with them as it does with him. In the meantime, he doesn’t plan to stay away from the rink.

“It is going to be tough watching the games from the stands,” Corbett said. “But I’ll be there along the boards, and I’ll be their biggest fan.”

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