BILLERICA – Emily Sartori has seen the good and the bad for the Shawsheen Tech/Bedford Girls Hockey team over her four years with the club, the last three of which she has served as one of the team’s captains.
More honestly, the Wilmington native has mostly seen the bad for the Rams, as prior to this season, the Rams had won a total of three games over the past two seasons.
But this season was different for the Sartori and the Rams, as the fought their way to four victories on the season, finishing 4-5 overall, in what appears to be just the first step in the rebuilding process for the girls hockey program. And while every member of the mostly very young Shawsheen squad enjoyed the team’s resurgent season, it is unlikely any of them enjoyed it more than Sartori, and deservedly so.
“Emily has seen the good and the bad, but she came out every night and every day ready to play and to practice,” Shawsheen coach Bob Roach said. “It didn’t matter what our record was or anything like that, Emily was always trying to improve and to help the team improve, so I was very happy for her to be part of this season.”
Sartori knew going in that this team had the chance to achieve success that some Rams teams of the past simply could not, and she could feel that same confidence growing in her teammates as the season progressed, making it that much more enjoyable to success with this group.
“We had all been pretty bummed in seasons before where we were losing practically every game,” Sartori said. “But we knew this season we had a talented team and we had some confidence going into the season. So, when we won our first game, our confidence just grew and everybody was just super excited, and at the same time when we lost, we didn’t get down on ourselves because we knew we were good enough to come back and win the next game.”
A big part of the reason for that confidence stemmed from inspiration from Sartori, who from the start of the season let her teammates know that this year would be different.
“At the beginning of the year, I sent a text just telling everybody to stay positive regardless of what happens,” Sartori said. “I just told them that if we hang our heads when we lose, we would have no chance to be successful. And everybody believed in that, and that really helped us be successful.”
Roach appreciated the impact that Sartori’s leadership had on the team, and knows that they would not have had the season they had without it. It was not just her performance during games this season, where she had five goals and four assists, but it was her performance in practice as well, where she was always trying to find ways to help the team.
“She would come to practice and always want to try something different, something that she thought could help the team,” Roach said. “At the beginning of the year, when we did not even know there would be a season, she would text me at least once a week asking if I knew anything, if there was going to be a season. A team generally goes as its captain goes. If you have great captains, you will have a great season, and that was definitely the case with Emily this season.”
It’s no surprise that Sartori couldn’t wait to get back on the ice. She has been skating or playing hockey practically her entire life, thanks primarily to her father Chris, who ever since Emily can remember has built a rink in their backyard every winter for her and her brother Chris to play on.
“Since I have been able to walk, my dad always built an ice skating rink for my brother and I and our cousins,” Sartori said. “I started by just skating and by the time I was in third grade I decided I wanted to play hockey, and my dad started putting me in clinics so I could learn how to play. When we played in the backyard, I was always the forward and Chris always played defense, so that was always fun.”
The extra practice seems to have worked out very well for both Sartori children, as Emily is wrapping up a career as a three-year captain and forward with Shawsheen, while, Chris, now 24 enjoyed his career as a defenseman at Wilmington High.
This followed several years of playing youth hockey in Wilmington, both with boys teams in the beginning of her career and then moving on to play with girls teams like the Redcats and then the Wilmington Middle School team.
She knows none of this would have been possible without the help and support of her parents, Chris and Sandra, as well as several influential coaches and teammates over the years.
“I want to thank my parents for the time and effort they put into my hockey career. And a huge thanks to my coaches that made me the player I am today,” Sartori said. “I’ve met some amazing players while playing hockey but even more important some of the greatest friends, I could ever ask for. I’ve had so many fun times with this team and many laughs throughout the years”
One thing Sartori has always been able to count on during her career, win or lose, was having the biggest cheering section anyone could hope for.
“I want to thank my cousin Scott and his family for coming to all of my home and away games and having his two daughters be my biggest cheerleaders,” Sartori said.
The Rams certainly gave fans plenty to cheer about this season, and from the looks of their young roster, they appear poised to keep improving. While Sartori won’t be a part of that continued success on the ice, she is looking forward to continuing to cheer on her former teammates in the years to come.
After studying Health Assistance at Shawsheen, she will move on to college in September at either Rivier or Merrimack, where she plans to study nursing, or perhaps go into teaching, but she will still always be a Ram at heart.
“It was an honor to be a captain three years. I am very excited to what they can do, because I think they are just going to keep getting better,” Sartori said. “I am hoping to be able to come back next year and assist them in any way I can.”