Sarno Selected as Boys’ Hockey Coach at Franklin High

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Franklin High’s new hockey coach Anthony Sarno knows a thing or two about perspective.
Issue Date: 
October, 2019
Article Body: 

Anthony Sarno is Franklin High’s new ice hockey coach, and the 50-year-old native of Medford is acutely aware he’s taking the reins of an elite program with a storied tradition.
A coach with a plethora of experience at a variety of levels, Sarno’s objectives for the Panthers’ 2019-2020 season speak volumes about his values and expectations.
“Upholding the long-standing tradition of Franklin High hockey and the standards set by Chris Spillane is my primary goal,’’ said Sarno, a former defenseman at Medford High. “Education, however, is paramount and studies come first. Other goals include building character and having our players take pride in their family, school and team. We also will strive to improve daily, and qualifying for tournament play is part of upholding the program’s tradition.’’
Sarno, who played a year of college hockey at Suffolk University, has replaced Spillane, who guided Franklin to countless Hockomock League titles and a State championship in 2016. Spillane, who coached for 21 years, succeeded Bob Luccini, who also led the Panthers to a State crown.
Franklin Athletic Director Tom Angelo, who played a key role in Sarno’s hiring, is delighted to add him to the Panthers’ coaching staff.
“Coach Sarno’s vision for taking the program forward is inspiring,’’ Angelo said. “His passion for the game, positive personality and coaching knowledge will allow him to hit the ground running. We look forward to many years of continued excellence under his leadership.’’
Sarno’s high school and college days as a player were hampered by a knee injury that eventually forced him to end his competitive career after his freshman year at Suffolk. His passion for the sport, however, never wavered. He coached and taught hockey in youth programs in Medford, Randolph and Boston and he later became the junior-varsity coach at Weymouth High. From 2014-2019, while he coached the jayvees, he also worked as the associate head coach and briefly coached the Wildcats’ varsity squad on an interim basis.
“Pat Kennedy was the head coach but as a Marine reserve his unit was called to active duty and I coached six games during the 2017-18 season,’’ Sarno said. “We went 3-3, and the last game was in the tourney where we lost to Natick. Pat was serving our country, and I promised him when his tour of duty was finished, I would step aside as head coach.’’
During Sarno’s extensive time with club teams and triple-A youth programs, he had a dynamic run. He led Randolph to a pair of State titles and his South Shore Dynamos squad not only won a State championship in 2009, it qualified for national competition. His five-year run as Weymouth’s jayvee coach ended with five winning seasons.
The attributes Sarno prefers when assembling a roster provide a clue to the style he hopes to employ as the Panthers’ coach. “Skating ability is extremely important,’’ he said. “A high hockey IQ is needed and that means knowing how to react in all situations. Leadership and being coachable are key elements, a strong work ethic matters and athleticism helps.’’
As far as his on-ice style goes, that likely will depend on the talent available and the skill level. “It really depends on what our strengths are,’’ he emphasized. “Each team is different. I want good skaters with ice awareness. I like an aggressive, up-tempo attack that relies on solid defense. Having skaters who are able to adapt and be resilient is another key.’’
Hired in early August, Sarno didn’t have an opportunity to meet his prospective players but when day one of pre-season practice arrives on Dec. 2, his players will know his priorities.
“I’ll formally introduce myself and also focus on trust and communication,’’ he emphasized. “I’ll want open lines of communication and they’ll know that we have to earn each others’ trust. I’ll stress that competing at a high level is a must and that also includes the classroom and practices. A family culture will be important on and off the ice.’’
Sarno’s athletic philosophy stresses reaching one’s potential and enjoying the experience of competing in a sport. “If those two things occur, then winning will follow,’’ he noted. “Winning is important; that’s why we practice.’’
Valuable life lessons Sarno hopes his players will learn from hockey are “to excel in a structured atmosphere, how to prepare and compete, how to be flexible and resilient, to be mentally tough and to maintain high character.’’
Angelo likes the balance Sarno has for athletics, academics, family and the community. “Coach Sarno and his staff will support our athletes by using positive encouragement,’’ Angelo said. “His players will demonstrate a genuine respect for the game, and he’ll instill a strong desire to win.’’
After transferring from Suffolk to Boston University, Sarno earned his Bachelor’s degree in computer science, and he works for Amtrak as a controller/dispatcher. A resident of Mansfield, he and his wife Julie have four children.
Sarno is a fan of former football coach Lou Holtz because “his emphasis focused on motivation and character.’’
Sarno takes Holtz’ concepts a step further. “There are two things athletes can control,’’ he said. “Their effort and their attitude.’’