It isn’t easy to possess the Scarpa name as an athlete in Andover.
When your father is an Andover High Hall of Famer, your brother rewrote the school and area record books as a star quarterback and your sister won a basketball state title, there is an enormous amount to live up to.
But Nick Scarpa is establishing his own reputation as a Golden Warrior star.
Scarpa is the starting goalie for the Andover High hockey team, which is off to a 3-0-1 start this winter, just two victories short of last season’s win total.
“It’s been a really exciting year,” Scarpa said. “We have a new coach (Chris Kuchar) and a new energy and everything is working well. I don’t know what the expectations were, but we feel like the team is coming together.”
Scarpa has been a key reason why.
The senior has posted back-to-back shutouts in two recent starts, and has allowed just three goals as the starting goalie for the Warriors’ first four games. That after a standout golf season.
“I dedicated so much time to improving and I feel like I am playing with more confidence and am technically better,” he said. “But it is a team effort. The defense has been great.
“I know that the Scarpa name is big in Andover sports. But honestly, I don’t feel pressure from it. They worked so hard to accomplish all that they did, and I do the work just the same. People just ask me if I am Carmen’s son a lot.”
At just 5-foot-6, father Carmen was captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams at Andover High (class of 1982), then played JV basketball — his true first love — at Harvard University.
Next came sister Alicia, a sharp-shooting guard who was a senior on the Andover High girls basketball team that won the 2010 Division 1 state title.
Then there was brother C.J., who in two seasons set the Andover High School records for passing yards and touchdowns in a season (2,622 yards, 32 TDs) and for a career (4,429 yards, 51 TDs). The 2013 AHS grad is now a quarterback at Bentley University in Waltham.
But Nick Scarpa wasn’t bitten by the football or basketball bug. Instead, he found himself drawn to hockey.
“I have been playing hockey since I was a little kid,” he said. “There was just something about hockey for me, and my parents allowed us to play whatever we wanted. Alicia had basketball, C.J. had football and I had hockey. I played AJFL (Andover Junior Football League) and basketball, but by middle school, I knew I wanted to focus on hockey and golf.”
After testing out his skills at other positions, Scarpa then fell in love with goalie.
“I’m not sure how old I was, but I know I was playing Squirts,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was a very good forward. Then I had a few good games at goalie and I just loved it.”
Following two seasons serving as a backup to star goalie Colby Gilbert, Scarpa broke into the starting lineup for Andover High last season, splitting time in net with Pat Schena, who has since transferred to Central Catholic.
Scarpa’s best stretch last season was when he allowed just one goal in back-to-back victories over Bishop Fenwick and Peabody. But the Warriors finished the season 5-12-3.
“It was a challenging season, but we kept playing hard for the seniors,” Scarpa said. “We were very determined to turn it around this season. We have coach Kuchar who is new, and I knew that we had a very good defensive core coming back. I knew this team had a good connection going into the season.”
After the Warriors opened the season with a dramatic 2-2 tie against Chelmsford, they posted three straight victories including Scarpa’s 22-save shutout against Acton-Boxboro and 33-save gem to blank Billerica.
“Nick Scarpa absolutely, positively stole that one for us,” Kuchar said after the Billerica win.
Following the season, Scarpa plans to continue his hockey career at a prep school before considering college hockey options. But for now, his focus is on Andover High.
“We want to at least make the playoffs,” he said. “Of course, our ultimate goal is to make the TD Garden (for the state title game). But right now our goal is to play in the playoffs. I know we are going to do the work to accomplish that.”
David Willis is a sportswriter/videographer for The Andover Townsman. Reach him on twitter at @DWillisET.
For Andover High hockey star Nick Scarpa the two sports he loves — hockey and golf — fit perfectly together. But as a goalie, it has nothing to do with a slap shot vs. a golf shot.
Instead, the similarities are mental.
“As a goalie, you are out there by yourself,” Scarpa said. “It’s the same as golf. You have to be able to move onto the next shot or the next save. The mental state is very similar.”