Working with community organizations, schools and businesses to benefit the city is job No. 1 for the new general manager of the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena.
Brian Cersosimo, who had been working as the arena's hockey development director, was named the new general manager last month, replacing Kurt Silcott as the facilities director. Cersosimo has experience operating an arena in the Pittsburgh area - Neville Ice Arena - for two years, and has 35 years of hockey experience. Cersosimo said he started playing hockey when he was 5 years old and continued to play until he was 18 years old when he was forced off the ice because of an injury. The injury didn't stop Cersosimo's involvement in the sport. At 18 he started his coaching career. Since then he has coached players of all ages from mites to juniors to minor leaguers.
''Hockey was an avenue to reach them so they would develop life skills,'' Cersosimo said about being a coach. ''The way we sold it to them is one day you're going to leave here and you'll have to manage your life. We tried to prepare them for the real world. That took precedent over hockey.''
P-J photo by Dennis Phillips
Cersosimo coached for 23 years until he finally retired last year to spend more time with his family. Cersosimo resides in Jamestown, with his fiancee and five children. In September, Cersosimo was hired as the arena's hockey development director. While working for the arena, he said he has developed a couple programs to help younger players improve their hockey skills.
''We set up programs to develop skills like the Learn To Play clinics,'' he said. ''We had a juniors' experience camp. We ran junior practices so they would understand the next level.''
Cersosimo said his main focus as the new general manager of the facility is to develop community contacts. He said developing a routine schedule of events so people know what is happening on a regular basis at the arena is also important.
''We need to get out in the community, partnering with different places to benefit the city,'' he said. ''We want people to see what a great facility this is so we can support the community. We want to be on their radar list.''
Cersosimo said it is the ''best of both worlds'' when it comes to promoting ice events - like hockey and figure skating - and marketing non-ice activities - like concerts and other sports. He said later this month there will be a dodge ball tournament, and the venue will continue to host football and soccer camps.
''We want more community-based events,'' he said. ''Start programs where we are working with the schools more. We need to reach out to community programs.''
As far as a hockey team for the arena, Cersosimo said he is working to get a team playing at the facility in the future.
''We're dotting the I's and crossing the T's before making an announcement,'' he said.