Leading the Rhinos in penalty minutes his first season, Costi was living up to his billing as he finished the season as the PIM leader.
Coach Herman needed more out of Costi though.
As the season was coming to a close, Coach Herman had a one on one meeting with Costi.
Herman needed Costi to be smarter.
He needed him to control his emotions.
He needed Costi on the ice.
“Costi was too valuable to us to be sitting in the box all the time”.
Costi proved his quality with his ability to adapt to what Coach Herman needed of him and follow up with a new attitude and take that into the ‘07-‘08 season.
The son of a Pastor, Costi is a man of deep faith and family.
As a player he plays with passion, vision, and a deep desire to win.
Costi maybe more than any other of the original '06-'07 Rhinos Team players saw the biggest development in maturity as a person and a player during his time in El Paso.
It’s with that maturity Costi made up his mind to forego his final year of Juniors eligibility and go play Division III hockey for Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts.
How did your recruitment to Westfield come about?
We’ll, along with Herm and Conny, I will have to give most of the credit to (Rhinos Defenseman) Sean (Molina). Westfield was looking at a few of the boys from the team at the WSHL Showcase in December. He talked to everyone but me in San Antonio. So when the calls were being made in the next few weeks Sean did me a favor and gave the Coach at Westfield my number and the rest is history I guess.
What other schools were you in contact with?
Nichols College and Johnson & Wales University
What made Westfield the right choice for you?
The biggest factor for me in choosing a school was not just the academic quality of the school but the majors they offered. Hockey is my first passion but behind that is Sports Medicine and Athletic Training, and at Westfield I can do both and the Movement Science program there is phenomenal.
You are kind of a unique situation in that you are jumping to college with a year of Junior eligibility still left, why the early entry into college?
I struggled with the decision from November when I first knew I had to opportunity to play college hockey 'til the day I committed to Westfield. I think for me it just felt so right, I’m very eager to get back into the classroom and take my play on the ice to the next level.
Colleges usually look for the players that are playing their 20 year old year, do you think you might have limited your possibilities by choosing to jump early or were you just in the right place at the right time for you?
I think you hit the nail right on the head with that one. I may have had other opportunities had I played another year, but for me Westfield had everything I could have asked for in a school. Just right place right time.
What do you think will be your biggest adjustment to college life the play or the academics?
Getting back in the classroom for sure, I graduated High school early so in the fall it will have been three years since I was in school. I think you adjust to just about everything else playing Jr. hockey which is a big part of why it’s the great stepping stone that it is. Especially in El Paso.
Being a first year program in the competitive ECAC Northeast, do you have any idea what to expect?
No, not really. Though, El Paso was an expansion program when I came and it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me.
Your family and your faith are very big parts of who you are. What, if any, was your family’s role in your decision?
Oh man, my family is everything to me and I talked to everyone in my family even my 13 year old sister Christa about it, and much to my surprise, my parents gave me their opinions about the schools I was talking to and told me that they wanted to stay out of my decision on whether to play another year of Jr. or not and what school if I chose to go down that path. They told me, “this decision is a big part of YOUR future, so what you do is up to you and you alone. “ I love them for that.
How did you end up coming to El Paso initially?
(Corey) Jendras and I were at a camp in Michigan and randomly were picked to room together. At the end of the weekend he and I were watching the last game together when the Condor (Rhinos Director of Player Personnel Trevor Converse) came over to tell us about the team in El Paso. Corey and I talked about it and sure enough at camp in August he was parked right in front of me before the first meeting.
How do you feel you developed in El Paso?
If you could ask Willy (Rhinos Forward Marcus Wilhite) and Puno (Rhinos Defenseman Zach Hale) they could tell you more, but growing up I was a bruiser of sorts with some skill that took penalties all the time. I honestly don’t think I would be half the player I am today if it hadn’t been for Herm (Coach Cory Herman) and the program in EP. Everything about it has completely transformed me as player, on and off the ice.
You won 101 games 2 Midwest Titles, 1 WSHL Thorne Cup Championship and 2 trips to Nationals as a Rhino player, why has this program had so much success?
Well for one Cory is an amazing Coach/GM/Owner. He believes in the guys he brings in and makes you believe in yourself. We came out every night expecting to win, because that’s what he taught us and expected of us. To leave it all on the ice every night. From Cory all the way down the line this program is amazing, the city, the fans, the host families, the volunteers, the medical staff, the rink staff, top notch thru and thru.
What was the biggest thing you learned as a player under Coach Herman?
How to control myself and play smart. He always encouraged the D-men to have poise with the puck and make plays both in the defensive and offensive zones.
What makes Coach Herman a good coach in our opinion?
He’s everything you want in a coach. He believes in everyone he brings in and treats you like a professional from day one. Doesn’t snap like some coaches. He gives you his best and expects nothing less from his players.
You are one of the original players that helped start this program. Now that you are moving along to college, what will you take away from your experience in El Paso?
Where do I start? If you ask anyone who has played here, they will tell you that we were blessed to have spent some of the best years of our careers in El Paso. The on-ice development is a given but some of the things I will cherish the most are the memories we made as a team and the relationships we’ve developed over the last 2 years. Not to mention a WSHL Championship ring!
What was your favorite memory as a player in El Paso?
I have plenty of off-ice memories I could insert here but I think the best memory I have is the final buzzer going off in Phoenix when we swept them in their own barn then the fans storming the ice as we all celebrated the Thorne Cup coming to El Paso.
What will you miss the most?
The boys, 7am Practice, the bus, roadies, terrible home-town refs (sorry guys), home games, the starting line up, MURR, THE FANS! This list could go on for awhile.
Do you think you’ll keep tabs on the program in the future?
Absolutely, the website is still my homepage. I can’t wait to come back and see everything in the fall.
“Costi will be a very good college player”