Randolph, NJ- The air was cool, and the sound of slashing skates against the ice was prominent throughout the arena. “You just gotta win and play as hard as you can,” said James Thomas Zangara, better known as JT, one of only two freshmen on Randolph’s varsity ice hockey team this past season.

Zangara, who plays the position of right wing, is young compared to his teammates and his opponents, who are mostly juniors and seniors. He realizes the higher level of responsibility and maturity he needs to achieve to compete against kids who are older, bigger, and more experienced.

“He’s a great kid, he understands Randolph hockey, you can tell he wants to be there and that’s cool to see in a kid that young,” said senior captain Jack Zimmer.

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Although Zangara is good-humored and friendly when he’s off the ice, on the ice it’s a different story. He takes hockey seriously and has dedicated himself to the sport for about ten years. One would think that ten years of playing the same sport could get tiring, but Zangara’s blazing passion for hockey persists, as he continues to bring the heat against his competitors.

Zangara cares not only about the game, but also about the people who have supported and motivated him, helping him to get where he is today in his hockey career. “My friends and family, they all pick me up and show me what’s better, and help me with decisions,” he said.

Zangara has been working out and getting fit for a while, prepping for his varsity debut for the last decade, but he recognizes and appreciates those who have been with him throughout his journey, mentioning his role models who inspire him to work harder and play smarter.

 He looks up to seniors Luc Swedlund and Jack Zimmer, and junior Nick Civetta, and he is grateful for his older teammates. “They’re all really good kids.  They know how to work with a freshman and teach me the right things,” he explained.

Zangara’s teammates have clearly been successful in mentoring the young player, who says he puts the maximum effort and passion into every game he plays. “You want to work hard for the team, you want to try your hardest for the kids in the locker room, your friends, your family. All those kids in the locker room, you just want to play for them and get them places.” Zangara, said with clear enthusiasm and no hesitation.

His efforts to play hard are obvious, especially to senior teammate Ethan Weisberger. “JT is a great kid, he has a lot of potential going for him down the road in hockey,” said Weisberger. He’s definitely someone to watch out for.”

For many students in Randolph High School, Zangara is known simply as “the freshman on varsity hockey,” but he is much more than that. He is widely known as a caring, passionate, and determined player, who will continue to carry on Randolph ice hockey’s legacy to the highest extent and show others what it really takes to be a Rams hockey player.

Editor's Note:  Alexa Skrapits is a student at Randolph High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Randolph.