ATTLEBORO (CBS) — The Bishop Feehan High School varsity hockey team won its season opener on Saturday, shutting out North Attleboro 3-0.
That might’ve been the headline, were it not the first game for a certain former player turned assistant coach.
As the Shamrocks took the ice on Saturday, AJ Quetta, who suffered a spinal cord injury during a game earlier this year as a member of the team, took his spot at rinkside. He was on headsets, communicating with head coach David Franzosa behind the bench.
Franzosa made it clear the teen’s job is not symbolic.
“AJ’s here to coach. And he’s doing an unbelievable job. His hockey acumen speaks for itself,” said Franzosa.
It was only 10 months that AJ was playing for Bishop Feehan as a senior, when a headfirst tumble into the boards left him paralyzed.
“You know, I’m just living day-by-day and having as much fun as I can have. I’m not going to let nothing hold me back,” said Quetta.
His catastrophic injury never dimmed his attitude, which galvanized community support behind his recovery. “AJ’s Army” raised all sorts of funds to help the former player and his family.
“He’s fighting as hard as he can, and we respect that,” said Bishop Feehan forward Thomas Franzona. “We’re all supporting him, and it’s awesome to have him in the locker room.
But the story got closer to full circle when Quetta was named an assistant coach for his former team. And Saturday marked his first game in that role.
The Shamrocks scored three times and got spectacular goaltending on their way to a shutout in their season opener. And the big, vocal crowd didn’t hurt.
“I couldn’t be more happy and blessed that this opportunity came by, and so quickly,” Quetta said.
A week from Saturday, the primary rink at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro will be formally renamed for Quetta.