Blackwood committed to life on the ice

January 03, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Jamie Blackwood was instrumental in starting the Washington County Northstars hockey team four years ago. He coaches the team that practices at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Jamie Blackwood grew up playing ice hockey in Wisconsin.

Now, his three sons — two in college and a 9-year-old — have had the opportunity to play the game.

Blackwood was instrumental in starting the Washington County Northstars hockey team four years ago to give local high school athletes the same opportunities offered in other counties. The team practices at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.

Despite surgery in early November, Blackwood was at the rink for practice not long after, demonstrating his commitment to the team, which has 20 players this year.

Blackwood, who coaches the team, said he has players representing every Washington County public high school except Hancock, as well as two private school students.

Blackwood, 48, said the team is based on a family philosophy.

“Once a Northstar, always a Northstar,” he said.  

Blackwood said he keeps in touch with players after they graduate from high school. One former team member plays hockey for a NCAA Division II college program and several play college club hockey through the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

He assists his players in getting into college hockey programs if they are hardworking athletes with good character, he said. Blackwood is on the board of the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League, a board that represents the coaches.

“I have a great relationship with the players on and off the ice,” Blackwood said.

He said it’s not uncommon for his players to gather at his house for an evening of video games.

Blackwood said the MSHL is hosting a high school-college showcase. The goal of the mini-tournament will be to bring in coaches and scouts to see the high school juniors and seniors play.

The season started Nov. 1, with state championships the week of Feb. 21. Last season, the Northstars went to the state playoffs and reached the semifinals, Blackwood said.

Hockey consumes much of Blackwood’s free time, and he said he’s lucky that his wife, Sherrie, loves hockey.

“I have no life, as you can see ... Without her support and my kids’ support,” he said with a laugh.

Blackwood said the program is self-supporting; it gets no funding from the Washington County Gaming Commission or taxpayers. Instead, the team depends on athletic fees, donations from local businesses and fundraisers.

It would like to get a corporate sponsor, Blackwood said.

He said about half of his players skate with the Hagerstown Youth Hockey Association, a club hockey program started in 1998.

Blackwood said he stresses winning ethically and morally, and playing clean hockey. Academics are a priority. He wants his players to be of good character, well-rounded and productive.

He said this season’s end-of-year banquet, when he has to say goodbye to four seniors, three of whom have been on the team since the program began in 2007, will be difficult. The saving grace is that most of his players come back during college breaks to visit him over the holidays.

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