Winter Coach Fridays: Scott Bertoli on Skating & Life Lessons as a Scholar-Athlete

If you were a hockey fan living in the Mercer County area in the late ’90s and early ’00s, you probably recognize Scott Bertoli as a legendary part of the Trenton Titans hockey team and former Princeton University hockey star. While many of today’s PDS student-athletes didn’t get to see Bertoli skate as a player, they know him today as the coach who is always encouraging their growth on and off the ice. 

Coach Bertoli is aware of how important his role is in the lives of students as the Head Coach of the Boys Varsity Ice Hockey team, Associate Director of PDS Athletics and Director of Middle School Athletics, but he says that motivating players at PDS comes easily. “These student-athletes are naturally high achievers and willing to put in the work to improve and develop. As a coach, that's all you can ask for. To be surrounded, year after year, by respectful, hard-working, coachable and competitive student-athletes is very reassuring in our efforts to reach our fullest potential and exceed expectations each season.”

When he was a student, being involved in sports was all he ever knew, according to Bertoli. “I made every attempt to try everything as a kid and through high school—baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf and of course hockey.”

This devotion to the world of sports was deeper than a simple love for the games, Bertoli believes that his experience with team sports has shaped every part of his life. “So many of the friendships I've established and sustained over the years are rooted in team sports, the shared experiences of exhilarating wins, crushing losses and hours spent travelling to games or in the locker room. Understanding the importance of athletics and team sports in my personal growth and development over the years are a big reason why I enjoy coaching, teaching and ultimately connecting with these players and teams.” 

Coach Bertoli’s belief that team sports can solidify and strengthen relationships is shared by many of PDS’ own alumni players, who, every year except for 2020 (during the pre-vaccine Covid pandemic), convene on the Great Road for annual alumni Thanksgiving Games. This year will mark their triumphant return to PDS. Bertoli says these games are a great example of why he loves coaching at PDS. “My favorite part of the season is the Thanksgiving break, specifically the alumni game when so many of our former players come back to participate in the game and watch our current team play. Reconnecting, sharing stories and memories from years past and hearing about all the amazing things these former players are doing in their careers is something I always look forward to each year. It's extremely gratifying to know that they had a meaningful experience at PDS as a student-athlete and enjoy coming back to relive some of those memories and connect with former teammates, coaches and faculty members.” 

The Thanksgiving games aren’t the only thing returning to campus this year. Our Panthers are also returning to fans in the stands on their home ice, where they skated masked and without fans last year. “The team was excited to get started this week and it was really nice to skate in front of a large, loud and supportive home crowd for the first time in a long while. The coaching staff is very optimistic about the upcoming season and the many new and exciting opportunities the NJSIAA State tournament and the Gordon Conference will provide for our team.” 

This season, Coach Bertoli is looking forward to a vibrant and potentially very strong season: “We have tremendous depth in net for the first time in years. We returned all five varsity defensemen from last year and have added a number of talented forwards to enhance the returning group. We anticipate having a much more balanced attack then in years past where we relied heavily on a small group to carry the offensive load. Our depth at every position should allow us to navigate injuries and a challenging schedule which includes all of the top teams in the area.”

We’re so excited to see (and hear!) our Panthers back on the ice. Follow along with our @pdsathletics Instagram for game schedules and more, and check out the team page on pds.org for the boys ice hockey team roster and other details about their season! 

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