When Everett Firefighter Richard Costanza – a Marine Corps veteran – took the ice for the Everett Fire Department team last Saturday, March 31, he had the wrong name on the back of his jersey.
In fact, all of the Everett jakes had the wrong names.
That was because Costanza, who was deployed to Afghanistan and Pakistan during his service, came up with the idea of honoring a Massachusetts veteran who was killed in their service by putting their name on the Everett players’ jerseys. So, every player on the Everett team wore the name of a fallen Massachusetts veteran during the tournament, which was hosted in Winthrop by the Winthrop Police team.
It was an instant hit, as the Everett Fire sought to get more involved in the Wounded Vet Public Safety Hockey Tournament – a tournament organized by Everett resident Andrew Biggio. Biggio also organizes the colossal Wounded Vet motorcycle run each summer.
For Costanza, he wore the name of Eric Currier on his jersey, a veteran from Massachusetts who died in 2010.
“One of the ideas we had that really went over well at the tournament was the fact that we all wore the name of a fallen Massachusetts veteran on the backs of our jerseys,” he said. “I wore the name of Eric Currier. I was fortunate enough that someone tagged my photo on Facebook, and Eric’s dad came down from New Hampshire, and I was able to present the jersey to him at the tournament. It was a special moment we had there.”
Costanza said he and Biggio, who are long-time friends, had been searching for a way to get Everett more involved in the Wounded Vet efforts. The best way, they found, was to have the Fire Department enter the hockey tournament.
Costanza said the team didn’t do so well in its first outing, competing against Revere Police, Transit Police, Winthrop Police, State Police and Medford Fire. However, the said Firefighter Craig Hardy had an outstanding tournament.
“Craig was my coach when I played at Everett High and he was a mentor to me, too,” he said. “Craig is one of the most outstanding hockey players Everett has produced. I’m actually surprised he didn’t go pro. He had a great tournament. He really knows how to put the puck in the goal.”
Costanza said the tournament meant a great deal to him personally, being able to raise $18,000 to help veterans like himself who came back wounded.
“It’s a huge deal to me personally coming back and being able to work for the town I grew up in,” he said. “A lot of guys from Everett, from the Fire Department, supported me when I went to the Marines. When I came home, I got a great reception from the City government and the people. You feel like you never left…Now, to be able to help veterans with the guys work with is just fulfilling.”
Costanza said he was very grateful to the Fire Union Local 143, which supported every request made for the tournament.
Costanza came onto the Fire Department three years ago, having graduated from Everett High in 2007 and going straight to the Marines. He was deployed with the 26th MEU to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2010-2011, and retired from the Marines in 2012 to become a firefighter.
“The Marine Corps built a foundation for it, and the Fire Department helped solidify my desire to work for the public and help other people,” he said. “That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”