For Briggs Gammill, it all started at New Canaan Winter Club in Connecticut at the age of three. The Winter Club is not exactly a hockey destination, rather an outdoor public rink in the small town of New Canaan. It was here where his love for the game developed and gave him an opportunity to play with his brothers and be coached by his father. One of seven children in the Gammill household, Briggs looks fondly on the Winter Club and playing with his family.
“From the moment I put on skates I loved hockey and just loved to play with my brothers on that rink,” admitted Briggs. “To this day we still find quiet moments to get on the ice as a family and have fun pick-up games.”
It wasn’t until he was a 12 years old that he decided to make the move to AAA hockey where he suited up for the Mid-Fairfield Rangers; one of the top AAA youth programs in the east. By the time he was 14 years old, he was elected captain of the Bantam team which was nationally ranked and qualified for Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska.
“Playing for Mid Fairfield was a great experience. With so much talent on the team it really pushed us all to be our best. We played some of the best teams in the country and had success and a lot of that was due to how tight knit our team was having grown up with most of the players. We did not come out on top in Alaska but it was definitely a special team.”
After playing Bantams at Mid Fairfield, he followed his older brother Barclay’s footsteps and enrolled in Berkshire School where he was one of the youngest players in prep hockey last season. His older brother had done the same thing and was a four-year standout for the Bears before being recruited at Division III powerhouse Trinity College.
“I decided to go to Berkshire not only because of my brother but because it is a beautiful campus with great people. Coach Driscoll was a big influence as well. I grew a lot as not just a hockey player but as a student, as a person and as an athlete.”
After a successful freshman season where he scored 8 goals and added 7 assists over 28 games, he was drafted in the USHL Futures Draft by Sioux City Musketeers. While he was honored and humbled to be selected, Briggs feels he has a long way to go before he can play at that level and is focusing his energy on next season at Berkshire.
“I have high expectations for our team looking at all my teammates because we are a hardworking and close group on and off the ice”. We know our identity and know we can win any game on our schedule. It’s a great culture here at Berkshire and with the support of the community I believe we can go surprise some teams in playoffs.”
Like many talented prospects Briggs recruiting process started at the end of his bantam season where he impressed schools with his play at the USA Tier 1 Nationals as well as the USA Hockey National Player Development Camp. He was receiving interest from schools throughout New York and New England but also got some attention from midwestern schools as well.
“My first visit was to Quinnipiac and then I visited UConn, Colgate and Yale. I had a few Hockey East and ECAC schools ask to me to come visit during the year but it was hard to get away with my athletic and academic schedule at Berkshire.”
The decision wasn’t easy for Briggs and he took his time, weighed his options but ultimately felt Yale was the right fit. He felt the academics, the community, the coaching staff and the fact that it was his home state team all played a role in his decision to attend.
“There were many reasons why I chose Yale and one of those reasons is the school itself. It is a great school academically and has a lot of tradition. Also, Yale has a great coaching staff that I felt I connected well with. I got to know the assistants and Coach Allain early on and stayed in touch with them all since end of last year. I know they will help me develop my game to the next level and that important for me. Additionally, the community is very supportive of Yale athletics and that is something I want to be a part of. “
Briggs was fortunate to go through the process after watching his older brother Barclay go through a similar process a year earlier.
“My two older brother’s Barclay and Brooks are two people I look up to for help. Even though Barclay didn’t talk a lot about the recruiting process for him, I still saw the way he handled himself when visiting and talking to various Division 1 and NESCAC programs starting his sophomore year and how hard he worked. He didn’t let it get to him and stayed humble and focused on what he wanted. This really pushed Brooks and I strive to be like him, or even better, because of how competitive we are. With Barclay and Brooks pushing me, I want to do the same to my younger brothers Boden and Bauer.”
This fall Briggs is playing split-season midget hockey with Mid Fairfield to prepare him for the prep season. He admits that it can be tough juggling schoolwork, school events and playing on the weekends for Mid Fairfield. However, the challenge has taught him about time management and getting his school assignments done ahead of time.
What does the future hold for the young prep star? He will return to Berkshire next season and hopes to take his game to the next level and help his team get to the playoffs. He admits he’s trying to get bigger, faster and stronger but more specifically he’s looking to work on using his body more and improving his finishing ability this season.
As the winter season is upon us and the Gammill’s family car is gassed up for games, Briggs doesn’t forget that it all started on an outdoor rink in New Canaan and never forgets what got him to where he is today. Hockey is after all, a family game.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images