News anchor Christie Casciano fulfills a lifelong dream by publishing a book featuring her children playing hockey
Since hockey parents are generally awake at 4 a.m. to drive their kids to practice, they have plenty of time in the stands to read, pay bills and chat. “When I became a hockey mom I had a lot of free time in the stands,” says WSYR- Channel 9 morning news anchor Christie Casciano. “There is not a lot to do when your children are on the ice practicing. You’d be sitting there and watching. So I took out a pad and started writing stories.”
Eventually, those stories took shape and became a plot. “All the storylines were focusing,” Casciano adds, “and these dynamic personalities emerged. I came up with this story, which is a compilation of a lot of what my kids went through: the good that goes on in hockey and some of the unfortunate things.”
Combine the narrative with illustrations by Casciano’s sister Rose Mary Casciano Moziak and you get The Puck Hog (North Country Books, Utica; 48 pages; $9.95/softcover). With the theme that teamwork saves the day, Casciano weaves a tale appropriate for 6- to 10-year-olds about the travails of dealing with a player who refuses to pass the puck, to anyone. “There are parents out there who are just a little too involved,” Casciano says cautiously. “I wrote about a father who has a bit of an obsession with his son.”
Both of Casciano’s children—9-year-old Sophia and 15-year-old Joe—play hockey and they both encouraged their hockey mom to become a published author. “My kids were great inspirations for the characters,” she notes. “My son helped with rephrasing what the kids would say. My children love the story and they encouraged me to get it published.”
Much like in soccer, more and more girls are playing hockey. Having Sophia be a main character in The Puck Hog will attract other girls to both the book and the sport, Casciano hopes, but the book also appeals to boys. “The parents I’ve spoken with are excited that there’s a book to put in a young boy’s hands,” she says. “It’s so hard to get their boys excited about any books but they see this, if they’re passionate about hockey, and it has a local connection. They’re reading it from front to back and over again.”
In addition to Casciano and her children, that local connection extends to the Syracuse Crunch professional hockey team. Crunch players have accompanied her on book signings; she will welcome a few at her next appearance, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 5 p.m., at Creekside Books and Coffee, 35 Fennell St., Skaneateles.
“They love the theme of the book,” she notes, “having a puck hog on the team. They say, if we can get kids to understand the importance of sharing and caring about each other, on the ice and in life itself. . . It’s interesting to hear the players’ stories about being on the road, living in hotels, having an apartment in Anaheim and here.”
The Crunch are the American Hockey League affiliate of the Anaheim, Calif., Ducks. So far this hasn’t been their best season, but it’s great fun attending games at the Onondaga County War Memorial. You can purchase copies of the book during home games.
As passionate as Casciano is about hockey, she’s equally excited that her sister was able to illustrate this debut book. “She’s always had a passion for sports illustration,” Casciano says of Moziak. “Early on, after she graduated from Syracuse Univer sity, she was asked to do a lot of action paint ings and murals. Now she works as an ad designer. When I got accepted by the publisher, he said he had his own artist on staff, but I asked him if he would consider my sister because she’s so talented.”
Indeed, Moziak’s pencil drawings are instantly accessible to kids, because what kid can’t relate to a pencil? “She chose that medium,” Casciano says, “because she wants children not to feel intimidated at all about drawing. It’s just encouraging kids to draw.”
Now that she’s a published author, Casciano would welcome the chance to continue writing. “The publisher is encouraging me to write a second book,” she says, “and a lot of the students I’ve met with have sent me e-mails with story ideas about what should happen to Eddie the puck hog, what should happen to the team. So I’m drafting a sequel. And having my sister along—we just can’t wait to turn the page.”
Follow Casciano throughout the hockey season at www.thepuckhog.blogspot.com.