Holy Ghost Prep’s Trip to Upstate New York An Annual Tradition

Come Thursday, the Holy Ghost Prep Firebirds will head north, to Jamestown, New York to compete in this weekend’s National Scholastic Invitational tournament. The weekend-long event will feature some of the finest high-school and prep hockey teams in America.

Starting Friday, the Firebirds will play a minimum of three games and perhaps as many as five, but as Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside explains, there’s much more to the trip than what happens on the ice. The trip provides an opportunity for the players and coaches to strengthen their connections to one another.

The Firebirds have made the trip to upstate New York in each of Whiteside’s 10 seasons at the school and were making the trip before he arrived.

“Holy Ghost Prep is a special place,” Whiteside said, “and we’re a family. And I think this trip really brings it all together, both on the ice and off the ice and kind of brings everybody together as a group and kind of shakes off any cobwebs if you will. Especially from our new players to be a part of the process.

The trip allows players and coaches to spend quality time together away from the rink. “It really does,” Whiteside said, “from the bus ride to the team bonding experience to the lodging that we have with the players. We have a lot of down time between games so we kind of so some teambuilding stuff, and spend a lot of time getting to know one another.

“It really helps out, especially some the younger guys, some of the freshmen and sophomores and new players that are part of our program. We just kind of bond and come together as a team.”

Whiteside says there is an atmosphere of mutual respect among the teams competing in the event. “We love the other coaches that are up there,” he said, “and I know the parents enjoy it very much so it kind of brings everything together.”

Whiteside notes that the tournament is an opportunity for his veteran players to step into leadership roles and mentor their younger teammates. “We go up there every year expecting to win the tournament,” he said, “and we expect our leaders to play a big part in that. Being away from campus for a couple days kind of makes people grow and develop as student-athletes and it’s an experience for everybody.”