Recognizing an Exceptional Volunteer

At this years PMHA AGM it was our honour to award Steve Marsh, our long time Referee Development Coordinator, a Lifetime Membership award. Steve has been generously donating his time to the Greater Victoria Minor Hockey community for decades.  He has been an exceptional volunteer and we all wish him the very best in retirement.

A letter from Steve Marsh:

Thank you Peninsula Minor Hockey, for deciding I was worthy of Life Membership. At the AGM, I was at a loss for words.  Perhaps this note will express my gratitude for this honour and why it means so much to me.

As an eleven year old, new to this country, I was fascinated by this team sport, ice hockey. When our family arrived in 1956, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Terry Sawchuk and their team had just finished winning the Stanley Cup and I identified with the Red Wings right away. It would be forty years before they accomplished that feat again. Foster Hewitt and Danny Gallivan apprised me of NHL play during that time through radio and black & white TV with bunny ears on top. With Foster’s “he shoots, he scores” and Gallivan’s Savardian Spinaramas and dipsy-doodles, hockey was becoming a part of my life as it was for a lot of kids at that time growing up in Ontario. As a newcomer, it allowed me to fit in. Your most loved sport included me.

In most parts of Canada, kids can learn to skate simply by going outside.  For me, there were back yard rinks, irrigation ponds and gravel pits. With no minor hockey association in our village and neither coaching nor practices, you just had to learn to play the game yourself but no MHA meant no registration fees!! Both my parents worked hard. They were from London, in their teens for most of the war, and lacked a formal education.  Dad saw out the last two years in the RAF. I came along a couple of months after the war ended. Thinking of the cost of the sport today, they would never have afforded to equip me to play.

Soon an outdoor rink was built – no stands or benches for parents and coaches to yell at you. We had a hut to keep warm and cleaned the ice ourselves – no Zambonies. While coaching a peewee game a few years later, I was called upon to fill in as a referee and I was hooked on officiating. Twenty years after that, we moved to BC and I took up reffing seriously.

It wasn’t just the uniqueness and team aspect of officiating that was interesting but more importantly for me, I could actually participate in the game no matter how old I would become. Soon I joined another team…of volunteers who managed the game at the local level becoming an MHA RIC. This led to instructing referees and then supervising them from the Referee Committee at BCH.

Coming to the rink became a social event. And I learned a lot about myself in the process. Throughout this 32-year referee experience I accumulated a few stories and met many parents, administrators, coaches and fans. I’ve watched some players and referees go through their entire careers, becoming parents themselves with their kids in turn, learning to play the game.

It’s been a wonderful trip but I have to admit I’ve taken much more from the game than I have given. Kids especially, take important things they learn at the rink into their working lives and relationships and I was no different. Please know though, that I have tried to always approach the game with R.I.C. – Respect, Impartiality and Courage (of my convictions). I have also learned other values such as team work, inclusiveness, gender equality, accessibility, health and numerous principles too many to list.

I am humbled by this recognition. Thank you to all who have been part of this great experience. It has certainly been a “life” of membership in hockey.

 

Sincerely, Steve Marsh

PMHA will always be your home Steve!