For close to five decades, in a variety of roles, Joe McColeman has been a pillar of the Northern Ontario hockey community
A long-time volunteer, Joe McColeman began coaching more than 45 years ago,
eventually getting behind the bench for his sons’ hockey teams. But he
didn’t stop there. It’s been over 25 years since his sons graduated from
minor hockey, and Joe is still at the forefront of the sport in Sudbury.
Joe has worn many hats over the years: coach, director and (currently)
president of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League. He has also
volunteered for other events, such as the Special Olympics and Royal
Canadian Legion Poppy Campaign. Most recently, he was the manager of
operations and manager of volunteers for the 2018 TELUS Cup, Canada’s
National U18 Club Championship.
If anyone knows about volunteering, it’s Joe McColeman. He shared his
thoughts on volunteering and what we can all do to draw more people into
the game of hockey.
Joe calls convening the Nickel District Minor Hockey League “a labour of
love,” and it’s easy to see how much hockey has become an integral part of
his life. Through his position, he makes schedules, runs tournaments and
playoffs, and, most importantly, attends hockey games.
“At the end of the year, if the kids are happy, that’s what we want,” he
answers when asked what fuels him every year to keep stepping up.
Other positives are the friendships built every season through the kids,
parents, coaches and administrative volunteers. For him, getting involved
isn’t just about giving back, but about being part of the driving force
behind hockey, shaping the game to be more competitive, more developmental
and more fun.
In 1975, Joe got his first coaching job at the age of 19. He sees this age
group as the key to becoming the next round of dedicated hockey volunteers.
“The young hockey players want to get involved and help out because of
their love of the game,” he explains. “There’s a lot of satisfaction
involved, whether it’s volunteering for hockey or the Red Cross.”
After more than 45 years of volunteering, Joe has built a lifetime of great
memories. One of his favourites is his recent success as manager of
operations for the 2018 TELUS Cup in Sudbury.
“That was a big commitment,” he explains. “Everybody on the management side
had big jobs to do.”
He relied on the help of many volunteers to put together the massive event.
“There will be lots of work, but it is rewarding. You will be happy about
it,” he says. “It’s good to get involved.”
In minor hockey, volunteers are the backbone that keeps the sport running.
Joe McColeman is the spine of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League. His
hard work and determination have been the foundation of many a league
season or tournament. The Northern Ontario Hockey Association would like to
salute him for everything he has given to the game of hockey.