Larry Rocha '79 was selected as the eighth head coach of the Saint Anselm College men's ice hockey program on Monday, June 11, 2018. An assistant coach since the start of the 2013-14 season, Rocha is the first alumnus to pilot the team since Tom Birmingham '76 from 1979 to 1985.
Since Rocha joined the program as an assistant, the Hawks have won two Northeast-10 Conference championships, including the team's 10th overall conference title in 2017-18. He takes the helm of a team that posted 17 wins this past season, the most in a single campaign across the previous 10 seasons.
"My time as a student-athlete on the Hilltop gave me so much more than I could ever express," said Rocha upon his appointment. "It has been a pleasure to give back to the Saint Anselm community, especially over the past five years, as an Adjunct Professor and Assistant Coach. This opportunity to return as Head Coach is a dream. I am honored to lead such an outstanding group of young men, student-athletes and Anselmians. I would like to thank President DiSalvo and Daron Montgomery for giving me this amazing opportunity."
"Anyone who knows or has worked with Larry will attest to his love for the sport of ice hockey and unmatched passion for Saint Anselm College," said Montgomery. "Larry's leadership will give our program strength and stability in the years ahead, it's an added bonus that he's an alumnus."
Rocha began his coaching career as an assistant at Penn State University from 1979-84 and also served as the acting head coach. Rocha guided the Nittany Lions to the 1984 ACHA National Championship and was later inducted into the Penn State Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.
Rocha was the head coach of the Division I varsity ice hockey team at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass. from 1996-03. There, Rocha led the Bears to a league title in 2001 and was voted the Coach of the Year. Before that stint, Rocha made stops at the Hotchkiss School (1985-87), Lawrence Academy (1987-88) and the Brooks School (1988-96).
During his time as a student at Saint Anselm, Rocha was a four-year letter winner on the men's ice hockey team from 1975-79 and was also a member of the Red Key Society. A Dean's List student, Rocha received the first-ever Senior Student-Athlete Award handed out by Saint Anselm and graduated with degrees in economics and business. Following graduation, Rocha, who also played lacrosse as a junior and senior, turned down a chance to play professional hockey to attend graduate school.
Rocha's daughter, Michaela, graduated from Saint Anselm in 2009 after a stellar playing career for the women's lacrosse team. Michaela captured the Female Student-Athlete of the Year award as a senior and currently ranks fifth all-time in point scoring and sixth in goals. Her 59 assists are tied for the second-most in program history. She currently serves as the Chair of the Alumni Council at the College.
Rocha and his wife, Candace, also have two sons, Cheyne and Aaron, who were student-athletes at the U.S. Military Academy and Babson, respectively.
Candace was an eight-time All-America selection at Penn State in lacrosse and field hockey while Cheyne earned Academic All-America plaudits while captaining the United States Military Academy ice hockey team. Cheyne was also a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship. Aaron played varsity lacrosse at Babson College, co-founding the Concussion Awareness Network Recover Foundation, helping athletes handle the effects of concussions.
A former adjunct professor of economics at Saint Anselm, Rocha is one of 12 Coaches in Chief for USA Hockey and is in charge of the education of coaches in the New England District.
Prior to arriving on the Hilltop, Rocha captained Brick (N.J.) High School to state titles in both 1974 and 1975. Following graduation, he went on to earn a master's degree from Penn State in 1984. He is a world-traveled surfer, holds five different black belts and has appeared in Black Belt Magazine and various videos.