Anything Is Possible as Long as You Work for It: 1-on-1 With Triton Senior James Tatro

As part of this new season of MIAA hockey, the pandemic has led to a very different reality for most high school athletes, especially the seniors. Obviously the rules and regulations are new, but for the 2021 senior class this is their last ride of high school competition. Some may not have another chance to play competitive hockey while others will be able to move on to play juniors, prep or even collegiately. There are lots of great storylines this season that we want to shed some light on and recently we spoke with Triton Regional senior James Tatro, a three sport star for the Vikings in hockey, baseball and lacrosse. Tatro plays a hard-nosed, high paced style of hockey that makes him one of the more dangerous forwards on the North Shore. He gets the most out of every shift and we wanted to learn more about playing three varsity sports for the Vikings, his journalistic chops and how his best friend got him started in hockey. Here’s what he had to say:

Let’s start with the obvious: what does it mean to you to get to play your senior year of hockey, even in the midst of this pandemic?

To not only me, but to all of our seniors we are extremely grateful we are even able to play just 10 games within our league. The whole year has been tough because we had to practice for the first three weeks, but just to be able to be on the ice with all of my friends is amazing.

There might be some folks reading this across the Commonwealth who are unfamiliar with Triton. Tell us a little bit about the school, where it’s based and what drew you to choose the Vikings to play your high school hockey?

Triton Regional is a school that combines three small towns, Rowley, Byfield and Salisbury, and is located in Byfield, MA. We have approximately 650 students attending the high school. You only have one chance to play high school sports with your friends and represent your school and that is why I stayed at Triton. I also knew we had what it took to become a great hockey team and to compete for a state championship. We have grown up together both on and off the ice and I wanted to see it through. 

Hockey isn’t the only sport you play for Triton: tell us more about what you’ve done on the lacrosse and baseball fields. What position do you play in both sports and what skills that you’ve acquired from each translate best to the ice?

Lacrosse and baseball are two sports that have had a huge impact on who I am. Unfortunately, in my freshman year I had to choose between them and I chose to play lacrosse. I play middie in lacrosse and I love to use my speed and quickness to get around guys which translates over to hockey when working to get space from the defense as I carry the puck through the zone. Baseball was a sport I had played my whole life and leaving it was tough, but this fall I decided to play one more short season with my friends and it worked out well. I was a catcher and infielder when I was young, but second base was where I played the last few years. I developed better hand-eye coordination which helps me in hockey when it comes to tipping shots in front of the net.

Off the ice we noticed that you’ve been getting into journalism writing for the Triton Voice: what is it about writing that interests you and is it a career path you might consider pursuing in college?

At the end of my sophomore year when I was choosing classes for my Junior year I decided to do Journalism because after reading the description, it sounded interesting. Journalism was different from other English classes because I felt like I was working for a newspaper company. I don’t think that writing will be the career path I take as I am not sure yet what I plan on studying in college. 

Back to hockey: you grew up in the Salisbury area and people might not automatically think of a small North Shore beach town as a hockey hotbed. Can you describe what the local hockey culture is like and do you remember what got you started playing hockey?

Salisbury may not be the biggest of hockey towns, we do however have a former NHL player who grew up here. Bobby Corkum went to Triton and then to the University of Maine and played in the NHL for several years. We have also had several graduates play in college as well who have come back to the area and coached in the youth league. I wouldn’t be where I am today if one of my teammates, Cael Kohan, didn’t ask me to come to his mite hockey game in kindergarten as part of the Triton Youth Hockey “bring a friend to hockey” day. Once I saw the ice, I knew hockey was the sport for me.

Coach Sheehan has had a lot of success coaching the Vikings teams that you’ve been a part of for the last four years. We’ve noticed that a hallmark of these squads is pace: get the puck out of the D zone and attack, attack, attack. What do you attribute the team’s success to?

I think the team’s success has just come from all of us working together. Whenever we are on or off the ice we are a family and creating that made us closer. Coach Sheehan is the link because everyday at practices he preaches family and to always support each other no matter what happens. Whether we make the best play or even a bad play we always keep each other up and make sure we stick together as one unit. 

Last year Triton went on a great run in the D2 North playoffs, reaching the Tsongas Center for the first time in 10 years. What are some of your best memories about playing in those playoff games: how tightly knit was that team?

Last year was historic, but none of it would’ve happened without us being a family. We knew before the season started that our team was special and we went to work early in the year. Every game we fought until the end and when Cael Kohan tapped the puck into the net in overtime of the Masconomet game, it was a memory none of us will ever forget. Celebrating in front of our fan section was also really special for us. Viking Nation is awesome and we miss having them cheer us on this year, but we know they are all watching! It also helps that many of us have played together since we were six or seven years old, have won a state title, came in second in New England one year and won several youth program championships while competing at the highest level possible. This winning mentality established by some great youth coaches, Paul Kohan, Jon Lindholm, Jim Egan and Ken Daniels has translated over into our high school career and it has been phenomenal.

For someone who has never seen you play hockey: how would you describe your game? Is there anything you are actively trying to work on?

My game of hockey is to always give everything I can no matter what. I like to grind in the corners, use my speed to help me get down the ice and free up space against defenders. I am always trying to work on something, right now I would say it’s my hands because I think I can make them quicker. I am never satisfied and will always keep pushing myself to be better.

The roster we have on file reflects you as 5’6”: do you feel like you have an underdog mentality to prove people wrong and you need to show them what you can do? Do you use their doubts as motivation?

I don’t think of myself as an underdog, but no matter where I go to play hockey or any sport, I always give 100%. Some people doubt me because of my size but I choose to ignore them and work hard no matter what is thrown at me. I want to prove that to be good at something you don’t always have to be tall or big. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what your size is, anything is possible as long as you work for it.

Finally, do you plan to pursue playing hockey next season? Have you started thinking about what that might look like and where?

Initially I had decided I wanted to play lacrosse in college but lately I have been strongly considering playing hockey instead. I am considering doing a post grad year while finalizing my decision to see what my options are. As of now, I have talked to Hebron Academy, Bridgton Academy, and the Worcester Railers Junior team about hockey but also Curry, St. Anselm’s and St. Michaels’ for lacrosse.