By Mike Rispin
From a football guy who never played this great game, I slapped on some skates, a helmet and some elbow pads (Dino Lecomte – laughed hard when he saw those) and went out looking more confused and scared than the initiation kids around me. Thanks to Marco Passeri that first year I learned a lot about skating and while I’m barely an Atom player, I can at least skate forward, hard stop and even pivot and skate backwards – just don’t ask me to do any of it with a puck and stick. I’m sure the kids around me were terrified this big oaf was going to fall on them. (I actually got taken out in one of my first seasons by a falling young player, but I managed to miss them when I went down, was a pretty neat twist move).
After seeing some craziness in a penalty box watching a PeeWee game, I asked “who is responsible for discipline around here”…well turns out they had just lost their discipline chair and someone said “hey if you’re going to complain, you should stand up” well I did and 13 years later I’m still standing, from the chair of discipline (which turned out to be my favourite role – although I never got to be house coordinator maybe I’d have loved that more – but I doubt it), I was President three different times, Female Coordinator, Rep Coordinator, Managed both T2 and Female teams through some fun years, we didn’t always win, but watching the kids have fun and do their best was awesome.
I’ve met some great people as I’ve navigated through 13 years of service on a minor hockey board, and while it’s not near the accomplishment of a Roy Kozuki (45 years reffing – wow – thanks Roy), it’s certainly been a long run.
It’s funny in many circles I’m known as a rule follower – the guy that knows the rules and follows them always – I have to tell you, that’s not always the case. I learned a long time ago that in order to know the art of possible you have to know where the shades of gray exist, knowing where the gray is, helps you to add some color. I think I’ve done a reasonable job of following the rules, while being as creative as possible within the rules to make my #1 goal a reality – KIDS ON ICE… it really is that simple.
These last two years have been the absolute worst two years to manage a hockey association at any role, but as President I found myself challenged on more than one occasion. That being said I’d like to thank all of the parents, players, coaches, managers, coordinators, referees, volunteers (normally the parents), and of course the office administrator that navigated through all of the changing restrictions.
To those of you from the last year’s board that made it through to this point – I thank you and want you to know that I truly appreciated all the work and effort that you put into making sure the 450-plus players in our association had the best experience we could give them. Everyone worked hard and did the best they could to be successful and while there is always room for improvement, given what the last two years was, a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU.
I want to wish all of you serving on the WLMHA’s board of directors best of luck, those that choose to move on a heartfelt thank you and those just joining, my blessings, as you move into something that can be both very rewarding, but also very challenging.
And to the membership as a whole I hope your child’s experience is all they can make out of it, I always said my stated goal for my kids in any organized sport, was a) they learn to work together, b) they have fun c) they put in their best effort – always, d) they came out of it with a sport they can enjoy for life – anything above that, was gravy. I think my kids got that out of this great game and I hope that all of yours do as well.
Thank you for your support, your criticism, your anger, your happiness and your camaraderie – and please reach out for a beer, for advice or even rule interpretation – I really do know where the gray is buried.
Mike Rispin has been on the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Board for the past 13 years and recently passed the torch to new WLMHA president Dustie Coombes