Aaron Schwartz and his family had a good inkling when he was still in elementary school that working with then-future Islanders Hockey Club NCDC Head Coach Tim Kyrkostas was the right move.
“Playing for Tim was something I wanted to do since playing for him back in Florida, when I was probably 6 or 7 years old,” said Schwartz, who grew up with Tim’s son Jackson Kyrkostas. “Last year was a really good year developmentally and recruiting-wise.”
Brown University first watched him while with the Islanders USPHL 16U National Championship team last season, and kept watching over his first few games of the new season, Schwartz’ first in the NCDC with the Islanders. With a goal and four assists in his first five NCDC games, Brown was sold. Schwartz committed for a year still to be fully determined, but as of right now probably the 2023-24 season.
“I’ve been in contact with them the last couple weeks. I visited campus on Sunday, got the offer Monday [Oct. 11] and took it,” said Schwartz. “The first thing I liked was their coaching staff - the way they handled the whole process was very professional. They talked to me like a regular person and not just another recruit. The school is unbelievable, it’s a tight-bond community.”
He became at first intrigued with the Ivy League and then completely determined to make it there after working with his personal trainer Ryan Vesce.
“Ryan graduated from Cornell, and just seeing how far an Ivy League degree can take you helped me focus on school the last couple years, to make sure I had the marks that can make it into an Ivy League school,” Schwartz added.
“I am so happy and proud of Aaron and his entire family,” added Kyrkostas. “I have watched this young man since he first started to play all those years back in Florida. To see him go through a lot of highs and lows over the years and for him to finally see all of his hard work pay off with this commitment is just awesome! He's a great young hockey player.
“He's really bought into the process of becoming a well-rounded 200-foot player,” Kyrkostas said. “He has a great hockey mind as he loves to watch the game and then analyze every aspect of it. I think Brown University is getting a great one.”
After playing with the Kyrkostas’ at Palm Beach, Kyrkostas later moved on to the Florida Alliance youth program, including representing the Alliance at the prestigious Quebec International Peewee Tournament in 2017.
After he turned 15 and living in both Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale, he played his first year fully away from home with the Shattuck-St. Mary’s 15U squad.
“I got the whole being away from home experience, and then the whole thing of playing for Tim fell into place last year, and I thought that was a good place to be,” said Schwartz.
“This is truly a great success for the IHC and the USPHL model - he was a Futures draft pick who played one year in our Midget program and now in the NCDC garnering his commitment,” added Kyrkostas. “The model works for those that have the talent and are willing to trust us in how we develop players.”
Midget hockey was a mess in the main COVID season of 2020-21, and he only got into seven regular season games for the IHC’s 16U team, posting a 4-11-15 line in that short time. He also got a game with the USPHL 18U Islanders. In the 16U playoffs, Schwartz was a prime mover for the Islanders team that won the championship, scoring a 3-2-5 line in four playoff games. As Tim Kyrkostas does double duty as the Islanders’ 16U National and NCDC coach, the transition to the higher junior level was seamless. And Schwartz has loved every minute of it so far.
“We have a great team with a good shot at winning the championship in the end,” said Schwartz. “We have a lot of guys who just want to be here and they’re good, hard workers with skill and grit. We really have what it takes [to win the title].
“The NCDC as a league is on the rise, especially last year seeing and practicing with the team and the good players who came through the team,” Schwartz added. “The league is just going up, and I have only good things to say about it.”
It’s a couple years away yet, but Schwartz believes he will pursue a business track once he arrives on the campus of Brown University. For now, the main order of business is to bring the Dineen Cup back to the Islanders Hockey Club for the first time in four years.
The USPHL congratulates Aaron Schwartz, his family, the Islanders Hockey Club and Brown University for his commitment.