When Nicole Ferrara and Chelsiea Goll took the ice Friday for their respective Syracuse University and Northeastern University women’s ice hockey teams, they shared more than just the great memories associated with growing up and playing hockey together.
As the players lined up for the National Anthem at Matthews Arena, you couldn’t help but notice the glance and the smile from the two freshmen as if to say without words, “We’ve made it to the big time.”
The big time is the highest level [Division 1] of one of the fastest growing college sports for female athletes.
And in the large rooting section behind the Syracuse Orangemen bench sat several members of Nicole Ferrara’s family, including her parents, Frank, a Division 1 hockey player at RPI, and Lisa, who starred on the basketball court at Bentley after helping Winthrop win Eastern Mass. and state championships in basketball and softball.
As one would expect, the Goll family sat proudly on the Northeastern side.
What the two players also share is a professional relationship with Marie Hamilton of Winthrop, a personal fitness trainer and owner of RPM Fitness, who’s been instrumental in shaping the careers and the bodies of the two former prep school stars and Assabet Valley performers.
Nicole Ferrara worked out under Hamilton’s guidance all summer, continuing an association that began during her youth hockey days and continued through prep school.
“She showed me all the exercises I needed to do to get ready for college hockey,” said Ferrara, who had a torn ACL and missed her junior season at Rivers. “I knew college hockey would be faster and more physical so I needed her to keep me focused and agile while also improving my strength and conditioning.”
Ferrara, a former All-ISL player at The Rivers School in Weston, is skating on a regular shift for the Orangemen and is one of the new players that the fourth-year Syracuse program is building around.
Syracuse University head coach Paul Flanagan is a believer in the Hamiltonian training methods, saying that Ferrara is “one of the most well-conditioned athletes in our program.”
“In some of our fitness testing, Nicole was tops on the team in strength and quickness and agility,” said Flanagan. “It was impressive for a freshman. Her sense of preparedness was very good. I credit her off-season training. I know her parents are both athletes as well so she gets great guidance and has great role models and that’s a good combination.”
Goll felt she was prepared well by Hamilton prior to entering Northeastern and the demanding schedule of major college hockey.
“Marie has prepped me really well for the college experience of playing at Northeastern,” said Goll. “I’ve been training with her for seven years and she’s done a really good job. She really helped develop me through my years in middle school and Brewster Academy.”
Goll could have trained at Northeastern during the summer but chose to work with Hamilton instead. “My testing numbers for conditioning were very good when I came here. Marie is a great person who has built a superb environment in which to work out. I recruited my twin brother [Casey, a hockey player at Southern New Hampshire] to work out with Marie and he raves about her.”
Marie Hamilton has worked with both players on their training and conditioning since they were 10 years old.
“I started training them in my back yard and then we branched out to St. John’s Church, then to Revere, and now back to Winthrop,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton designed a five-day-a-week training program for Ferrara and Goll in strength, agility, and conditioning – along with yoga twice a week. “So they did a lot of everything. Nicole and Chelsiea worked very hard all summer long and they motivated each other. They also worked out with the boys in our training program so that was an extra push for them as well.”
Hamilton’s success in training athletes extends to other Division 1 programs such as Boston College where Winthrop’s Jess Martino plays women’s hockey and the University of Notre Dame where Jenny Fucillo competes in track for the Fighting Irish. Yale University-bound Janelle Ferrara, Nicole’s younger sister, is also a Hamiltonian product.
“I keep the training groups small so the athletes get a lot of direct attention,” said Hamilton, whose sons, football players Phil and Rob, helped Winthrop win a Super Bowl in 2006.
Hamilton, who’s become the Mike Boyle of developing Winthrop athletes for high school and college, recommends starting regular training while in youth sports. Hockey player Vanessa Van Buskirk is one such future star training under Hamilton’s tutelage.
“Marie does a great job with these kids,” said Frank Ferrara. “She motivates them and they work hard in athletics and academics and deserve what they’ve earned.”
Connie Goll has witnessed the tremendous impact that Hamilton has had on her children’s hockey careers.
“Marie Hamilton is wonderful with the young athletes,” said Goll. “She doesn’t start them right off with weight lifting. She provides age-appropriate training for young athletes and trains them properly.”