Peter Korcsinszky moved to San Francisco in 2004 looking for a job and an ice rink.
Finding work for the lawyer from Debrecen, Hungary, took six months, which made the connections that he forged at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center in San Francisco all the more significant.
Korcsinszky bonded with Paul Switenki, one of the founders and the “heart and soul” of the San Francisco Sabercats.
The Hungarian began working with the youngest kids in the youth hockey program.
“I started the program from the bottom, setting the foundation,” Korcsinszky said. “It’s like building blocks: skating, then basic stick handling, passing and shooting.”
Korcsinszky’s hockey career began on the frozen ponds of Debrecen at the age of 5. He was encouraged, but not pushed by his father, a devoted player and active member of the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation and President of the local hockey club.
Following in his father’s skates, Korcsinszky played internationally as a defenseman for Hungary’s under-16 national team. As a law student, he won semipro adult hockey championships in Debrecen before blowing out his knee during a game.
The 33-year-old is beginning his first season as the director of coaches, and this month is celebrating his six-year anniversary with the Sabercats.
He is also the co-coach of the Pee Wee’s, the under-12 team that is beginning its season after an undefeated preseason campaign. Several of the 12 players on the Pee Wee roster have been with Korcsinszky since they were fledgling skaters.
“The love of hockey, he really instills that in the kids,” said Mark Damstetter, the father of Eric, a current Pee Wee winger and a long time protege of Korcsinszky.
Fortunately, the ice rink is close to home — Church and Market streets — and to his job, a civil litigation firm in the financial district, where Korcsinszky works as a paralegal.
Two challenges currently facing the Sabercats are finding ice time for the various in-house and travel teams at the busy Yerba Buena Center and raising funds for the program.
Korcsinszky, Damstetter, longtime Sabercats president Jennifer Clark and other volunteers worked to secure a $2,500 grant through the Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports Program. Sabercats leadership has earmarked the grant for player scholarships and equipment.
The Responsible Sports Program reinforces and complements the philosophy of coach Korcsinszky.
“Hockey is a team sport,” he said. “It’s not about individuals, it’s not about me. It’s about the team and the organization as a community.”