By Ross Forman
His passion for high school hockey ran from Chicago’s northwest suburbs to the national stage, dating back decades.
Terry Stasica was the president of the Conant High School Hockey Club and the president of the Metro Northwest High School Hockey League. He also was an AHAI Director from 2006-2010 and the AHAI High School Committee Chairman. Plus, Stasica was on the AHAI High School All-State Selection Committee from 2008-2012 and was the AHAI Showcase Team General Manager from 2004-2015.
Stasica was ever-present on the local high school hockey scene.
“I only met Terry four years ago when I became the AHAI High School Chairman,” said Jim Powers. “I met him at the first (team) tryout, (though we) spoke on the phone prior as to how he ran it, etc.
“Terry was the General Manager of the (Illinois) Showcase team for the past four years that I was involved (and six years prior to my involvement), and he handled everything … and I mean everything as far as logistics that went into the Showcase team.
“He sent out notice to those selected for tryouts and then those chosen for the team. He set up ice for tryouts and practices. He did all of the logistics of travel and the team logistics. He set up the practice games, etc. It is a lot of work that goes into (coordinating the Illinois) Showcase team. He was our liaison basically.”
And Illinois has had incredible success of late – in the last three years, Illinois has won the championship twice and took second-place the other year.
Stasica, who lived in Schaumburg, passed away November 18, 2015, at age 66 from cancer. He long will be remembered locally, and now nationally, too. The prestigious America’s Showcase Tournament announced a new award it will be presenting, starting with the 2016 event – and the award is named after Stasica.
“He was part of the Showcase team for many years and will be missed by many,” said Kathy Santora, America’s Showcase Director. “The award in his honor will be an Outstanding Leadership Award for either a coach or manager (who) has gone above and beyond in service to these high school players.”
Brian Noonan, who spent several years on the Showcase coaching staff, including two years as the Illinois team’s head coach, said naming an award in Stasica’s honor is “a great idea.”
“He loved working with the Showcase team; this is a great honor for him,” Noonan said.
“Terry loved the Showcase; he loved hockey and certainly loved high school hockey.
“There’s a big hole for (AHAI) to fill,” with Stasica’s passing.
Phil Gabrielsen, the head coach for the Fox Valley Hawks, was the Showcase team assistant coach for five years in the 2000s. He said it’s “definitely a great award for Terry, who really did a lot for AHAI and Illinois hockey.”
Gabrielsen added, “It was all about the kids; everything Terry did was for the kids. And this award shows the respect others have for the work he did. This is an outstanding award.”
Stasica’s roots with the Conant High School hockey team date back to the late-1990s, and in the spring of 2000 he met local coach John Conenna.
Stasica ultimately recommended Conenna for the Conant coaching job – and Conenna eventually was the school’s JV coach for three seasons and the varsity coach for six years, and then a Conant club board member.
“He wanted his club to be on the map. He wanted Conant to be a power, to be thought of like Loyola, St. Viator and others,” Conenna said. “Being hand-picked by Terry was a huge honor.
“Terry was always looking out for the program and the kids.”
Jared Projansky, a 2014 Stevenson High School graduate, was a Showcase player that year. He said Stasica was “a very kind man who did all the behind the scenes things for the team. Terry was the reason everything was able to happen so smoothly with the team; he organized everything and just made sure everything always ran smoothly.”
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years, and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.