DEREK F. DECOSTY
If you watched the 2014 Tournament Players Championship (TPC) from Sawgrass and marveled at the beauty, neatness, placement and consistency of the many, many bunkers, you can thank Pete Dye who designed the Stadium Course, and Rome's Derek De Costy, the guy in charge of maintaining the bunkers.
Derek works as a golf course maintenance foreman at Sawgrass and is well on his way to becoming a certified golf agronomist.
Pretty good for a hockey player, eh?
Growing up in Rome during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Derek, the son of legendary Rome coach and athlete Fiore De Costy, played football, baseball and hockey, not golf, but like most hockey players he started hitting the links during his professional hockey career. What could be better after a whole lot of time spent on the ice than getting out in the sunshine and smacking the golf ball around like a hockey puck.
Slap shot or wrist shot, Derek?
“Slap shot. Hit it far, look for it later.”
No matter where he lived, Derek was and will always be a Roman. “I will never forget my Rome roots, especially Rome's great sports culture, its supportive and friendly people, the lifetime friends I made, Franklyn's Field and the John F. Kennedy Arena.”
That being said, Derek adds, “However, the two best things that ever happened to me took place in Glens Falls in the same building, when during my senior year in high school we won RFA's first ever state high school hockey championship, and then about five years later when I scored my first ever professional hockey goal.”
A stellar, three sport athlete at Rome Free Academy, Derek chose hockey as his sports of choice for college when he was offered a full scholarship to RPI, both an academic and hockey powerhouse. When he left, Derek was RPI's seventh all-time leading scorer and eighth in career assists and most points scored. During his senior year, Derek, an RPI assistant captain and leading scorer, totaled 41 points on 26 goals and 15 assists.
For the next 14 years, Derek played professional hockey in Richmond, Virginia, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wheeling, West Virginia and for seven years, overseas in England. It was in Wheeling, during the mid ‘90s, that he had both the best of times and the worst of times. Just before game time one night Derek was told he had been called up by the Edmonton Oilers and would be on his way to the National Hockey League the very next day. That same night, Derek blew out his knee and underwent season ending surgery.
During his years in Wheeling, Derek was a several time ECHL Player of the Week and Player of the Month, and in 1995, was named Hockey magazine's ECHL Player of the Year.
“Believe me, I was blessed. I saw the world playing the sport I loved and got paid to do it.”
Before professional ice hockey banned its players from participating, Derek had two great years with the Atlanta Flames and the Buffalo Stampede playing roller hockey.
Why hockey and not the other sports?
“I really enjoyed the all-out speed of the game and the physicality of the sport. Baseball was my favorite until Thurman Munson, my all-time favorite player, was killed in a plane crash. I sort of lost interest in baseball after that.”
Being elected to the Rome Sports Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor for Derek. “Thrilling and humbling at the same time. Rome has produced so many high quality, talented athletes that to be included in that group along with my dad, is fantastic!!”
The Rome Sports Hall of Fame thinks so too.