When he was four, Dylan Corsi got a Christmas present he’ll never forget.
Though he’d yet to master skating and hadn’t been walking long, the Ashburn tike received a new hockey set complete with stick and puck. He found his game.
“I was really into it. I remember we were there really late,” said Corsi, now a 12-year-old standout defenseman playing for Team Maryland at the Tier 1 AAA level of the Atlantic Youth Hockey League.
“After I started to play, I found out I was actually pretty good at it.”
The youngster tried baseball and flag football, but only hockey stuck. He took to it, becoming a true blue-liner as a defensive-minded defenseman, looking up to the likes of National Hockey League all-star Kris Letang.
“I like that you have to be more physical [in hockey] than in other sports,” Corsi said. “You also need to be a good skater to be a defenseman, transitioning from forward to backward.”
After beginning in the Ashburn Xpress system, Corsi landed a spot last year with Team Maryland at the Pee Wee Major level, the highest classification for his age group.
“It was exciting to see how fast and how creative the players were at the tryouts for Team Maryland,” Corsi said. “It’s really a high level of competition.”
One of Corsi’s favorite moments on ice occurred last year, when Team Maryland squared off against a squad from Connecticut ranked No. 4 at the Tier 1 AAA level. Team Maryland won 4-1.
“That had such a big impact on me,” he said. “It made me realize we could play with any team in the nation. It made me excited to play other really good teams.”
In February, Team Maryland will spend two weeks in Quebec City to compete in the 61st edition of the prestigious Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, an event dubbed the Little League World Series of Hockey.
Corsi will make the trip to Canada with his Team Maryland teammates, including a few fellow Loudouners, all staying with local host families.
The Quebec tourney will be the largest showcase Corsi has played in yet.
“It’s like the Little League World Series. A lot of people come just to watch,” he said. “We’re playing some international teams and some Canadian teams that are really good. So we’ll be exposed to some really good hockey up there.”
Next season Corsi graduates to the Bantam level, in which checking is permitted. As a defenseman, Corsi looks forward to throwing his weight around.
“It will be good to finally be able to hit,” he said.
Corsi studies the game, constantly looking to increase his hockey IQ, analyzing the on-ice strategies that result in goals - or, from the defenseman’s perspective, no goals.
He makes communication part of his role, letting teammates know where to be and why.
“I’m more protective,” he said. “I’d rather be the last one in the offensive zone than give up a breakaway.”
With his high school days still in front of him, Corsi is already thinking about how he’ll earn a living. If he can make money playing hockey, he will.
“I have this talent that I want to use toward hockey. I want to lean toward pro hockey, if I can, rather than a regular job,” he said. “I like the saying that if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
School: Farmwell Station Middle
Teams: Team Maryland (Tier 1 AAA); Broad Run/Western Loudoun (NVSHL)