FRASER, Mich. – Tina Ciraulo has grown up around the game of hockey and after her playing days concluded, she knew she wanted to give back to the game that has given her so much.
Recently, the Fraser native was named a new assistant coach for the USPHL’s Metro Jets, taking on a role with a program that has vaulted to the forefront of junior hockey development not only in Michigan and the Midwest, but arguably across the country.
“I’ve been fortunate to have known ‘Q’ (Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville) for a long time and have always been familiar with the team, even helping with some of their strength training in the past,” Ciraulo said. “This year, I was presented with the opportunity to take on a full-time position with the team and it felt like a great fit. I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Quenneville is equally elated to have Ciraulo on staff this season.
“We are excited to add Tina to our staff full time and continue to build on this environment for our players,” Quenneville said. “I am lucky because I didn’t need to vet her in any way. We have known each other for a long time, and she was part of the program last year as well. This was a no-brainer for our organization, and she will bring passion and experience that our players can learn from every day."
Like the players on the ice, Ciraulo is looking to improve her coaching game off the ice.
“The most appealing aspect of the taking on a coaching role with the Jets organization is the opportunity to learn and grow alongside the phenomenal coaches, managers and staff of the program,” said Ciraulo. “As coaches, we always want our athletes to continue to grow and advance, and the same holds true for coaches as well. And I personally feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to do so here with these guys.”
Ciraulo’s father, Bill, enjoyed a successful junior and pro career with Michigan teams in the SOJHL and IHL, while her younger brother, Anthony, spent time in the NAHL and USHL before playing NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Michigan.
“Our family has been a hockey family for as far back as I can remember; actually, before I was even born,” Ciraulo said. “This sport has always been my biggest passion and provided me with countless opportunities that I would not have experienced otherwise. I knew from a very young age that hockey would be the driving force behind my success and my future. As my Division I career (at St. Cloud State University from 2001-05) and professional hockey career came to a close, I knew that I wanted to play this game at a competitive level for as long as I could. I soon realized that my passion for the game didn’t end with just playing but coaching and training as well.
“I feel fortunate to have the chance to pass along my experiences, opportunities and knowledge of the game with the athletes that I work with as well as the passion for the game that was passed down to me from my dad.”
Having a recognizable last name has also been a source of pride for Ciraulo.
“Coming from a family where my dad had a lot of success as both a player and a coach might be a little intimidating for some athletes, but for us, it was just who he was,” Ciraulo said. “Billy was always our coach and role model, but most of all, he’s always been our biggest fan. My brother and I were very fortunate to share a couple national championships with our dad behind the bench which not only gave us the chance to share that moment with him, but also to learn from him as well. I have always been proud to have the name ‘Ciraulo’ on the back of my jersey because to me, that represents preparation, passion and success.”
Now gearing up to take on her next adventure behind the bench, Ciraulo’s future is bright, and she gets to do it in her hometown.
“I got my first taste of coaching and training young athletes when I started working camps in college that took me all over the United States as I developed hockey players of all ages,” Ciraulo said. “I continued to run hockey camps and clinics until 2014 when I took my first coaching position with a Detroit-area hockey organization. Over the past 19 years, coaching has taken me all over the world to work with elite athletes, both on and off the ice.
“I am really looking forward to this season with the Jets organization. We have a team full of talented, hard-working guys who are ready to put the work in and be held accountable. I think with the group that we have, it will be awesome to see our veterans lead by example and our younger guys come in with the excitement and energy to continue to push the group forward and continue to grow.”
Ciraulo reiterated that hard work and keeping the players’ best interests as the top priority has always been her No. 1 mission when coaching.
That will continue with the Jets, she said.
“Taking this position with the Jets organization has been a fun and exciting journey so far, and I look forward to counting to push these guys to their full potential,” said Ciraulo. “I was raised that hockey is hockey – not boys hockey or girls hockey – just hockey. And if you want to compete with the best, you have to put the work in. So as a female, I want to continue to drive that message home for my past and present players as well as my nieces and nephews to just take things one day at a time, show up, and work hard.”