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Sports Person of the Week
Amatruda’s a True Leader for the Easties
David Amatruda was honored to be named a captain for the East Haven football team and is now leading the Yellowjackets’ hockey squad in that same role this winter. (Photo courtesy of David Amatruda)
David Amatruda has made quite a name for himself as a member of East Haven’s boys’ hockey and football teams the past four years. An athlete through and through, David has gained a lot from the experience, while unlocking a passion that will last him well beyond his time in high school.
David is currently serving as a senior captain for the East Haven co-op boys’ ice hockey squad after having previously earned that role with the football team. David first stepped on the ice in East Haven’s youth league when he was only two. His father was big hockey fan and wanted him to get involved in the sport.
David’s mom was concerned about him playing hockey at first, but after a few practices, David began to get the hang of it and started showing the early signs of his potential in the sport.
“My dad grew up playing basketball, but he would always watch hockey games. He loved hockey. I’m pretty sure he proposed to my mom at a hockey game. He wanted me to play,” David says. “The first time I got on the ice, my mom told me I was crawling. My coach Mark Dicola went up to her and asked her to give it a couple weeks. A short time after that, I was good. I was skating. I was doing perfectly fine.”
David started competing in East Haven’s youth league at age six and stayed in the league until his freshman year of high school. David’s wealth of experience prior to joining the Yellowjackets gave him an advantage at the outset of his high school career, and he continued progressing with each passing season.
“I was able to improve my game every single year,” says David. “The next year, I would get back, and I felt like I was 10 times better than the year before that. I felt like it helped a ton.”
David saw varsity time as a forward on the second line in his freshman season with the Easties. David has remained a mainstay of East Haven’s offense throughout his high school career and is poised to once again be one of the team’s leading scorers as a senior this winter.
“Looking back on my freshman year to now, it’s a big difference. I’ve definitely gotten a lot better, a lot bigger, and a lot faster,” David says. “Coach Lou Pane helped me the entire way. He was always in my ear trying to get me to do as well as I possibly could.”
Coach Pane says that everyone on the Yellowjackets looks up to David. Whether it’s David’s work ethic or his shooting skills, Pane says that the improvement has been evident, and that the senior captain has become an integral member of the East Haven boys’ hockey program.
“Dave is a wonderful player. He works hard at it. He is an outstanding shooter. He’s a great guy to be around in the locker room. He has been a luxury for us to have,” says Pane. “He has become a starter player and a leader. He has the desire to win. From freshman year to where he is now is night and day.”
David began his career on the gridiron by playing tackle football in East Haven’s youth league as a 5th-grader. David had always watched football on TV and had a feeling that he was going to like the sport. The late Tony Sparano, who was the head football coach at the University of New Haven and also for the Miami Dolphins, was David’s uncle.
“I knew I was really going to enjoy it,” says David. “My uncle used to be a coach in the NFL. I grew up watching it all the time. I went to a few games. I knew right away I was going to have a really fun time playing it.”
At first, David was playing all over the field and even tried out for quarterback at one point. However, once he started playing running back, David knew that he had found his spot. David was always a speedy back and, when he had the ball in his hands, felt confident that he could get past anyone.
David joined the Yellowjackets as a freshman and spent most of his first two years at the JV level. At the start of his junior season, David got the call-up to the varsity team, but didn’t play in the East Haven’s first game. However, in the squad’s second contest, a home matchup against Brookfield, David scored a rushing touchdown in the second quarter. It was moment that showed both David and the coaching staff that he belonged on the field.
Although David wasn’t able to play his final season with the Easties, Head Coach Scott Benoit says that he “would have been a dominant player” as a senior this year. Benoit describes David as a hard worker who has developed himself into an outstanding athlete and an excellent leader.
David’s leadership skills earned him the title of captain for East Haven’s football and hockey teams in his senior year. David says it’s an honor to be a two-sport captain and that he loves helping his teammates in any way possible in each sport.
“I thought it was a really big honor. I always wanted to be captain. I want to lead the team. I want the little kids to look up to me. It just feels really good,” David says. “You get named captain, everybody knows about it. They know you can lead the team. I love having that weight on my shoulder.”
As he plays through his senior season on the ice, David wants to guide East Haven to the SCC Division II title this year. When he graduates, David plans on playing hockey and majoring in sports management in college.
David has matured both physically and mentally throughout his time as an athlete. He says that playing sports for his hometown gives him something he can share with people for the rest of his life.
“It means a lot,” says David. “When I get older and I have kids of my own, I want them to be able to look up to me and say, ‘I want to do what he does.’”