Mark Benemerito, an 18 year old senior at Delbarton School graduates this month and will be attending Hobart College to play NCAA Division III hockey in the fall. A four year varsity letterman, Mark conducts himself as a humble, quiet, and well-mannered young man which directly contrasts to his intense playing style and aggressive compete level while watching him play. Sharing Co-Captain responsibilities this past season for the Green Wave squad (#11), he helped earn Delbarton’s 12th NJSIAA State Championship for the school.
Mark began playing hockey by skating in the Aspen Ice Cross Ice program at 5 years old and then entered the NJ Freeze Mite program at 6 years old. Playing up through the ranks at Tier 1 level for a stint, he returned to play Freeze Bantam AA, 16UAA and then 16U and 18U Select Frozen Tide teams finishing up his age eligibility at the youth level. As a resident of Landing, NJ, he attended Roxbury High School as a freshman making the varsity hockey squad, then transferred out to attend Delbarton School for the next three years where he continued his varsity play under the tutelage of Coach Bruce Shatel.
As a left handed shooter, his position has primarily been a natural left winger during his hockey career. Mark has played defense and Center at the younger hockey levels, but excels at wing because of the speed and attack he brings. During his entire high school hockey tenure he amassed some impressive stats scoring a total of 44 goals and showcasing his playmaking skills by notching an additional 46 assists.
Playing true to his demeanor and character, Mark believes that you must be a well-disciplined player in this sport. When asked what principles, strategies, and philosophies he finds most important in the game, he replied, “It is critical to be organized, follow the game plan, and stick to the system your coach has implemented. You cannot play as an individual in this sport. It just doesn’t work.”
There have been many memorable experiences playing in the Freeze program. Mark recalls in particular playing on the 2012-13 Freeze 16UAA team that made a strong run all the way to USA Hockey District playoffs, but unfortunately missed out on a bid to USA Nationals. He remembers the special bond and comradery with all the players on that team and the chemistry that carried them so far, he commented, “An incredible squad and season can also bring equal disappointment when you are stopped short working with such a special group.”
While interviewing Mark, he reminisced about his prior hockey experiences, teams, and influences and remembers Coach Marc Ozga most in Cross Ice and the NJ Freeze program. Being that he was his first hockey coach, he recalls Coach Ozga teaching the squad not only the skills required for playing, but also about systems and building their hockey IQ regarding the game even at that young age because their team could understand. Mark ended up working many camps and clinics assisting Coach Ozga at Aspen as he got older.
Mark enjoys playing other sports and in particular loved playing Lacrosse with many other former Freeze players from Roxbury. He played through middle school, but decided to specialize and focus on hockey. He remains close to his Roxbury friends growing up. He still enjoys boating, fishing and fun on the lake with many of his childhood buddies.
When asked why Mark selected Hobart College for his education, he remarked, “it was the perfect fit for me… size wise in attendance, academics and providing the opportunity to play hockey there.” Mark would like to make an impact for the Hobart team and hopes to contribute to the team while gaining trust and playing time. His ambitions focus on academics, leadership, and future career plans center somewhere in business field. Always admiring his dad’s professional career, he would like to follow in his father’s footsteps and apply himself in the business sector.
The Freeze Club wishes Mark the best of success, happiness, and fun in his future endeavors. Good luck at Hobart!
Article by Carmen Spagnuolo
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