Coach Iowa was my first coach to ever treat me like a peer. Goalies are a strange bunch, I know, and his way of working with me was different than any coach before, or after him. In 1987 before I was a freshman at GA, I met with coach about playing for him. I was playing 90 game seasons with the Little Flyers and had a full-time goalie coach. John said he would love to coach me but would leave the goaltending part to me. He was a great leader, and knew how to get the most from his players. I was not used to a coach being so friendly and almost fatherly, besides my father coaching early on. He would ask me before games, "you good?", and I would give a nod. That was it. After games he would always give me a pat on the shoulder and tell me good job, this is easy for you with a wink. I enjoyed playing and winning for him because he made sure I was loose and having fun out there. He knew the game, but more importantly, he knew people, and how to lead them. The world lost a great man in John, and he will be deeply missed. My condolences to his family and close friends.
GA Patriot 1988 - 1991
I began playing JV in 8th grade and practiced with Varsity but didn't play there until 9th grade in 1988-89. I took my lumps but always got a good firm handshake and gratuitous "good game" from coach Ioia after even though I never really factored in. It wasn't until my senior year when coach recognized me for my production and spoke of my overall game play after our matchups. He was always kind and respectful to myself and my teammates no matter what the outcome. He is definitely one of the best coaches ever to have graced the benches in Southeastern Pennsylvania High School Varsity Ice Hockey.
Ross Porubski #24
CR Indians 1987 - 1992
My senior year he and his wife invited a hockey player from the Czech Republic to live at their home while attending school and playing at GA. Radim thrived with John’s support and is one of my best friends to this day. That is all thanks to Mr. Ioia and his family. Game speeches were always positive. Sure, there were sometimes when we got yelled at and deserved it. He held all of his players accountable. You were motivated to perform and work hard for his respect and approval because of the man he was, not because of fear or shame. Wining the Flyers Cup was always the goal for every season. We made it to the finals 3 out of 4 years that I was there. He kept us calm and made us believe we belonged there. We played with no pressure, no tightness. His support and belief in us helped us capture two of those championships. He is a legend of Philadelphia hockey. His true legacy is living with the people whose lives he touched. He always had a welcoming smile and an unforgettable laugh. I will miss him. I want to thank his family for sharing a wonderful human with all of us.
Rob Shaner #20
GA Patriot 1991 - 1995
Hearing coach Ioia passed away hit hard. He never changed that kindness, that warmth, even in a frigid ice rink, even after all he must have seen in decades as a firefighter. I hope I thanked him enough for the opportunity to manage the GA Hockey team all of those wonderful years. I couldn't have dreamt, (and I had big dreams!) of the incredible journeys the privilege of that "job" kickstarted. I loved the game, but really LEARNED it those nights in Warminster and Bristol and wherever else early 90s hockey took us. It was HARD to be a woman in/around what was fully still considered a men's sport, even in high school. I had no females in the industry to emulate; it was just me and my Flyers jerseys and my overflowing love for the game. Just about everyone thought it was nuts, and many assumed I only loved hockey because I was a bit boy crazy, (ok, maybe that was a bonus). That assumption still follows all women in all sports. But coach trusted in me and taught me and years later, I was doing my dream job(s). Pro athletes were taking my advice and I was confident enough to give it. It all started with coach and John Jr and those GA guys - who I've seen grow into pretty great men, btw. Thanks always, coach. Enjoy dancing with Mrs. I forever.
Melissa Wilson Yashin - Team Manager
GA Patriot 1988 - 1992
John was not only a friend and a key part of so much we all did to put high school hockey on the map, but he was a great guy all around. In the 80's and 90's did so much for so many, and hearing of his loss brought a tear to my eye. I spent many a night at games with him and after. He was the kind of person you could always count on. John never favored his son on the teams he coached. If anything, he was tougher on John Jr.
Andy Abramson - Founder, Flyers Hockey Central & The Flyers Cup Tournament
I don’t have one specific ‘best memory’ but looking back - and seeing him at alumni games decades after graduation - I’ve come to appreciate how selfless a man he was. He coached our team and truly cared about his players, was a firefighter, had a beautiful and accomplished family and even housed an exchange student/hockey player from the Czech Republic our senior year. His was truly a great man and a wonderful role model; as a father now, I can appreciate his commitment even more. We had some great teams those years and many of us are still very close 30-years later and I think Coach Ioia had a hand in that; his enthusiasm was apparent, he loved our team, and we all had fun together on and off the ice with Coach the center of some of our best memories.
Ryan Kilstein #10
GA Patriot 1991 - 1995
I think that many of us might not have a specific memory of coach Ioia – just general reflections. And, now that I have two kids who are in youth sports – I see how much of a good thing that is. What I mean by that is that for coach Ioia, coaching, and the success we had, was never about him. We won two Flyer’s Cups playing at GA, and coach Ioia always let the focus be on us. Similarly, we lost two State Championship games and a Flyers Cup final during my time, and I don’t recall a negative word ever coming out of his mouth. Having played for, and seen, a number of coaches since then, I think he’s a rare breed. Those four years playing high school hockey were some of the fondest memories of my life and the guys on that team are some of the best friends I’ll ever have. I think a large part of that is because coach Ioia let us be a team – and helped mold us into a team.
Jeremy Brooks #12
GA Patriot 1991 - 1995
He was a man I looked up to as a coach. He was firm and kind, a genuine leader. I have very fond memories of my time with him. God bless Mr. Ioia. Heaven gained a great coach
I have so many memoires of Coach Ioia, and similar to what we've heard from so many of his players they involve the make up of the man himself . One memory that always sticks out was a game my senior year against Lasalle. The previous year in the Flyer Cup Championship, I suffered what many thought was a career ending injury on a dirty play. This never sat well with Coach as he thought the way the other team handled it was against one of the core principals he instilled in his players, integrity. The following year, after the game was played, Coach Ioia walked up to the opposing coach and without loosing his temper, eloquently articulated his thoughts on how he handled the situation wrong, explained the right way to handle it, and how the behavior set a bad example to the players. I often reflect on that moment and how coach didn't have to go out of his way to support me so long after the event occurred. However, being the standup man he was, he felt it was his duty as a coach and more importantly as a good human being, to lead by example with honor, integrity, and respect. I try to exemplify these traits that I saw on that day and many other days with him in the rink throughout my life. Rest in Peace Coach!
Scott Seltzer #14
GA Patriot 1993 - 1997