Hockey player Fayetteville Marksmen has tattoos of places he played
It would take an atlas to track the travels of Donald Olivieri as an amateur, college and professional hockey player. Or, in case every picture tells a story, he might as well take off his shirt or pull up a pant leg and show you.
For more than a decade, in most of the cities where Olivieri has pursued his passion on the ice, he has, in a sense, chronicled much of his journey with tattoos. Now in his second stint with the Fayetteville Marksmen, Olivieri’s newest ink addition has arrived in recent weeks. Max Ray, a local artist from Sovereign Tattoo Studio, placed the silhouette of a hockey player shooting at the base of a mountain on Olivieri’s left chest.
“It kind of flowed with what I already had,” he said.
There are no mountains near Fayetteville, but Olivieri will never watch this scene without remembering that the tattoo was added during his years with the Marksmen. Olivieri has gotten tattoos in most cities he’s played since he turned 18. It was then that he was old enough to acquire them without his parents’ permission.
“I had a couple in Rochester, New York, when I was in college,” the 30-year-old Philadelphia native said. “Every time I look at a tattoo, I remember where I was. They remind me of what I did growing up.
His collection includes a few hockey pin-ups, a snowman wielding a hockey stick, a skull missing several teeth and wearing a hockey helmet, the Philadelphia skyline, Italian script and a gorilla.
Olivieri didn’t grow up loving ink per se.
In this case, Olivieri followed in the footsteps of an older brother not only as a hockey player, but also by becoming an art gallery on slides. In Donald’s case, he is pictured from feet to chest.
Lou, the eldest of four Olivieri children, set the tone when he got his first tattoo, and before long Donald – by the time he stood out at junior level – wanted too. . When Donald approached his father, Sam, a Philadelphia police officer for more than three decades, for ink as well, the response was a firm “no,” even though his father had a tattoo.
Why his father’s intransigent response?
“It wasn’t that he was against me having one when he did, but because of my age and how he got his,” Donald said. “He did some undercover work, and one of the jobs the guy was a tattoo artist. The guy wanted to give her a tattoo. My dad didn’t want to, but because he was undercover, he felt he had to.
“I forgot what the tattoo was, but he ended up covering it with a black panther with a tidal wave behind it.”
Lou’s first tattoo eventually became a full sleeve, and by then Donald was confident he would follow suit.
“I loved the art. I think it’s amazing what tattoo artists can do,” Donald said. getting my first – an Italian flag with two hockey sticks crossing it on my upper right arm. After that, when I turned 18, I didn’t need parental consent. … Since I got that one, it just took off, and I had the sleeve on my right arm within a year.
It’s a big investment not just in money — “probably five grand, maybe more,” he said — but also in time. He spent five hours doing a play in Bismarck, North Dakota, when he played for the North American Hockey League juniors.
He followed that one with ink in Utica and Rochester, New York during his college years. He has permanent reminders of pro hockey stints in Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri and Virginia. Memories of short series in Michigan, Indiana, South Dakota and Georgia are missing.
Olivieri, a defender, first played for the Marksmen in the 2019-20 season. Fayetteville and Peoria were tied for the lead in the Southern Professional Hockey League when the COVID-19 pandemic halted all 12 regular season games before the end. The playoffs have been cancelled.
Last season, with the exception of two games in Columbus, Georgia, in the Federal Prospects Hockey League, Olivieri did not play. He and his fiancée, Alyssa Kling, were living and working in Cicero, Indiana, when Cory Melkert, the Marksmen’s freshman coach, called. Melkert and Olivieri were SPHL teammates in Evansville, Indiana, for eight games at the end of the 2017-18 season, and Melkert was Fayetteville’s assistant coach during the 2019-20 campaign.
“I wasn’t going to play, but he kept calling me and calling me,” Olivieri said. “Then he ended up talking to my fiancée and kind of convinced her to give me another year.”
One of the best in SPHL
Olivieri is having a career-best season and is tied with Taylor McCloy for the team lead with 32 points. With 10 goals and 22 assists to date, Olivieri ranks second in scoring among SPHL defensemen. He leads the league in shots made and is tied for third in the number of minor penalties imposed.
Fayetteville has no players in the league’s top 20 scorers, but it sports a 29-12-1 record and clinched a playoff berth last weekend with two wins. Next up for Fayetteville is two games at Macon this weekend, then two home games against the Mayhem on March 11-12. Fayetteville has beaten Macon all 11 times they have faced each other so far, and he enters Friday’s road game 8-2-0 in his last 10 outings.
“All young people who play hockey dream of reaching the NHL,” said Olivieri. “I am 30 years old and I am no longer a spring hen. I want a championship. It’s the last thing on my plate, I can say I made money playing sports, but winning a pro championship would top it all off and be the closure for me.
Olivieri said he’s semesters away from graduating from college in criminal justice, with dreams of landing a job as a police officer or firefighter in his hometown of Philadelphia — and getting more ink on its living canvas of a body.
“After my brother got his sleeve and I got mine, my dad was like, ‘Oh, that looks good,'” he said. “Next thing you know, my dad contacted tattoo artists and got a leg sleeve the following month.”
And does Donald Olivieri’s mother have her own ink?
He chuckled before replying, “I don’t. think she does.”