Volunteers keep the puck moving
This year, the St. Paul and District Minor Hockey Association will say goodbye to three long-standing members who combined for nearly 40 years of volunteer work with the organization.
The former president, and most recent secretary of St. Paul Minor Hockey will part ways after 14 years of volunteering in a number of different roles.
“I started at beginner Novice with my oldest kid and kind of worked up through the ranks,” Thomson said. “I don’t think I sat at every coordinator position but I’ve been around a long time.”
Thomson has had three children participate in St. Paul Minor Hockey. While his oldest son, Mitchell, has graduated from minor hockey, his younger children Andrew and Alexandra still play.
“I just think it’s a great sport for the kids. It gets them off the couch and away from their phones and gets them moving,” he said. “It’s a sport that most kids will play long into their adult years.”
Thomson was recently honoured for his years of dedication to minor hockey at the Timbits Future All-Star Game, an event that he says initiation coordinator Nicole Leroux and president Calvin Bespalko worked hard to create.
“It was very nice. I think Nicole and Calvin have done a great job setting up that fun night for the kids,” he said. “I think that’s something the little ones will remember for a long time.”
While Thomson will now step down, he said he had a great time in his years with minor hockey, and is hopeful new board members will step in to pick up where he left off.
“It was lots of fun. I very much enjoyed working with everyone on the board,” he said. “wWe need to have some younger faces on the board . . . We need some new blood.”
Miller said he “just wanted to do his part,” when his kids got involved in minor hockey over a decade ago, but the midget coordinator ended up going above and beyond that desire, putting in 13 years of work as a volunteer.
“I believe in volunteering in my kids’ activities,” Miller said. “It’s been a good 13 years but it’s time to step down and let someone else carry the torch.”
Miller’s oldest son David recently graduated from minor hockey, while his youngest son Colin has one more year left in the program.
“It was very fulfilling as a parent to watch them develop through the years,” he said. “We spent lots of time together traveling to practices, games and tournaments . . . we were with each other a lot.”
Miller says he believes hockey plays a big role in the St. Paul community as it is a great learning tool for young kids.
“Hockey is fun. It gets kids in shape and keeps them very active,” he said. “It’s a team sport so they learn a lot of life lessons through the game like sharing, always being positive, doing their part and respecting their teammates, their coaches, the refs and their competition.”
Miller agreed that it was a very nice sentiment to be honoured for his volunteer work with the association at the Timbits Future All-Star Game, and said he hopes it will encourage more people to put in their time.
The inception of the Timbits Future All-Star Game has been one of the highlights in Miller’s13 years with the association because of the wonder and excitement it brings out of the initiation players.
“I spoke with one woman after the game, and she told me her son wanted to go to bed at 5 p.m. on the Thursday so that (the All-Star Game) would come quicker,” said Miller.
Trach coached with St. Paul Minor Hockey for 12 years, beginning as an assistant coach at the Atom level, then taking on the role of head coach all the way up to Midget.
Trach has decided to step down and was also honoured for his 12 years as coach at the Timbits Future All-Star Game, but with the look of next year’s Midget A team, Trach is already second-guessing that decision.
“I haven’t 100 per cent decided if I’m going to step down or if I’m going to come back next year because I do feel that the Midget A team next year is going to have an extremely good year,” Trach said.
Trach had two sons graduate from minor hockey. His oldest, Mackenzie, laced up for the St. Paul Junior B Canadiens this season, while his youngest son, Kris, graduated from minor hockey this year.
“I coached Mackenzie most of the way through,” The first year or two I was assistant coach, then I took on the head coaching role and I did have Mackenzie for a good chunk of it.”
Trach’s team of Midgets this year made a strong run in the playoffs. After just squeaking into the post season in eighth place, they took the first place team to Game 3 of a best-of-three series before being eliminated.
“We were probably one player short from being extremely competitive,” Trach said. “We weren’t a big group as in stature at that level, but the guys played a lot bigger and that’s why we did as well as we did.”
Trach said the people involved with St. Paul Minor Hockey, both on and off the ice, made his 12 years great from start to finish.
“The kids are great. I love to be around that environment to see them succeed and to help them with some life skills,” he said. “All the people that I did work with throughout the years were great . . . They were all part of what made it a very enjoyable 12 years of coaching in St. Paul.”
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