Teaching within the CEP has always been important to Eppolito. He’s proud to play a part in the evolution of the highly successful program.
“It continues to evolve in a positive way on a yearly basis,” Eppolito said. “So, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in all kinds of changes in coaching education, all with the goal to make hockey coaches and players in the United States better. I’ve lived through the Initiation Program, to the blue puck, to small area games, to the ADM and now to the coach developer aspects of the CEP. Those elements are just proof that USA Hockey is doing everything they can to make sure they provide the best educational program for their coaches across the board.”
Eppolito, who lives in Clayton, New York, got his first taste of hockey outside of playing when he was refereeing and volunteering. He had a daughter play hockey, so he was heavily involved in the Thousand Islands Youth Hockey program in western New York. For 34 years, Eppolito was a teacher at Thousand Islands High School. He became the school’s boys’ hockey coach in 1986 and held that position until 2016.
In 1994, Eppolito was asked by a local hockey organization to investigate a new USA Hockey program called the Initiation Program.
“I went to this training and didn’t think I was going to learn much, then I had my eyes widely opened to the benefits of being involved in USA Hockey,” Eppolito said. “I ended up taking on the role of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association Initiation Program coordinator in 1994 and from then on I’ve been involved in coaching education.”