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Long Island Rebels Coach Hoping for More Celebrations at Nationals

By Steve Drumwright, 03/31/22, 2:30PM MDT


Frank Dell'Isola is fresh off his wedding reception coaching at Youth Tier II 18U Nationals

Weddings and everything that goes into the ceremony and reception is a stressful experience for any couple.

When it goes as planned, it is usually a glorious weekend of a wedding packed with friends and relatives, followed by a fun-filled reception and the newlyweds taking off shortly thereafter on their honeymoon.

But for Frank Dell’Isola and wife Natalie, things most definitely happened off-schedule. The couple is in Irvine, Calif., this weekend for the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 18U National Championships, with Frank coaching the Long Island Rebels out of New York in the 3A division.

Dell’Isola and his wife are just a little more than a week removed from their March 24 wedding reception, which came 15 months after the actual wedding of Dec. 26, 2020, a month after the originally scheduled Nov. 25 date.

The honeymoon? That took place in early January, as they relaxed on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia.

None of the typical celebrations followed original plans, due to COVID, but the newly married couple is making the most of it, now, with hockey in their plans.

“It was still a great day to get to marry Natalie,” said Dell’Isola, who said the actual wedding was scaled down to 30 from the originally planned 200. “It was still a little nerve-wracking and it was definitely a happy day to be able to finally tie that knot and we took control of it and did it on our own terms. So we were really happy about that. But we always knew that we would get a chance to have a big party.”

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Three other attempts at a reception were scratched. Each time there was a cancellation, it was due to COVID, either with the venues not allowing the event or a massive local outbreak.

“We got to go away for our honeymoon and then coming back, it was just focusing on finishing up the season and we were in a really good spot and just make a hard run at it,” Dell’Isola said. “Just kind of knew that we had the reception coming up later in March and it worked out really well that we were able to tie up the loose ends with the season, go to the state championships and win and get invited to the dance here in California.

“So it kind of worked out where we’re having a really big celebration two years in the making and now getting to come out to California, and hopefully celebrate some more.”

A championship in the team’s first trip to Nationals would be the ultimate topper, considering the title game Monday is the same day as his 36th birthday.

In addition to all of the starts and stops with the wedding and reception, there was also sorrow. Larry Cinque, one of Dell’Isola’s cousins, died after battling COVID for about a month. His death came as Frank and Natalie were on their honeymoon. Cinque, 41, was a groomsman in their wedding.

“We all grew up together,” Dell’Isola said. “There were six grandchildren and I was the second-youngest, he was the second-oldest, but we were all pretty close in age. So we were really more like siblings. I was a groomsman at his wedding many years ago. Words really can't describe how devastating of a loss it was.”

Cinque is never far from Dell’Isola, who carries some of his cousin’s ashes around his neck. What Dell’Isola said he will miss most about Cinque is just being able to hang out, watch football and laugh.

This weekend is a chance to make some memories. Already, the Rebels have had a terrific postseason. In the New York state championships, they beat their rival Long Island Edge, 3-2, in overtime, and then knocked off a Cazanovia Park team that had allowed only five goals in the tournament by a 7-4 count. Cazanovia Park beat the Rebels in the state title game last year.

“A lot of the kids, it was an emotional roller coaster just getting that close last year and coming up short,” Dell’Isola said. “Knowing how that stings and knowing how it feels, they went on a mission to make sure that this year they can not only get back there, but try to be successful this time.

“Give them a lot of credit. We added some pieces to the team this year that made us better and we were able to get over the hump. They worked really hard for it. They banded together and they wanted it and they got it done. So I’m really proud of that.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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