For more than three decades now, volunteer hockey coach Frankie Robbins has dedicated his free time to making a difference in the lives of young players.
“He’s the heart and soul of this team,” said Williams Lake Midget Timberwolves head coach Owen Thomas of Robbins, who is the team’s assistant coach.
“He does it for the love of hockey and for the love of the kids.”
Robbins grew up at Alkali Lake skating on the lakes and creeks in the area and only started playing men’s hockey himself at age 17.
“I never did get to play minor hockey myself but I wish I did,” Robbins said. “Hockey is my passion. I like to help the kids — I want to see them go further.”
It’s that passion for the game that still gets Robbins up at three or four in the morning to get to early morning practices in town, or rush off from work in the evenings to practice from Alkali Lake, about an hour’s drive from Williams Lake.
“Sometimes I get off work at 5 p.m., and just throw my skates in the back of the truck and head to town,” he said. “I like the people. I enjoy the parents and getting to visit with all the arena staff.”
Robbins said he’s not sure what the secret to his success in coaching is, but he does believe in being patient and encouraging with his players.
“The kids just love me to death, I don’t know why. I guess I always look at the positive side, try to find ways to be encouraging,” he said.
“I’ve been really privileged and honoured to work with the best coaches in Williams Lake. I’ve learned so much from them, I guess that’s why I can help the kids out.”
Robbins names coaches such as Steve Carpenter, Doyle Flaherty, Jack Legget, Brad Thomas and Owen Thomas as some of the best he’s ever worked with.
As for his future in the sport, Robbins admits he says every year will be his last.
“But I just can’t [quit]. That’s just the love of the game and the kids and parents I guess,” he said.
“I’ll do it until I can’t skate anymore.”
As well as coaching, Robbins still also plays Oldtimers Hockey League and competes whenever he can find time between coaching.