The Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s volunteer of the year is someone familiar to regular readers of the Daily Herald.
Sports reporter Dave Leaderhouse found out about winning the Esso Volunteer Award on Sunday. It took some convincing to get him to talk about it and his five years with the team.
“To be quite honest, I’m somewhat embarrassed, but very appreciative of the acknowledgement,” he said. “I have spent five years with the Bears and worked with a lot of great people and witnessed some fantastic hockey. It has been a lot of fun, but it is the friendships I have developed that have made it all worthwhile.”
He joined the team at the same time as its current chair, Laura Quesnel, two years after the Bears came into existence with the formation of the SFMAAAL.
Leaderhouse served as manager for two years and then moved to the team’s board for the last three.
He was originally recruited by then coach Ron Bonneau, a school friend he chatted with on the golf course.
He has since become an indispensible part of the five-member board and small group of volunteers who run the club along with co-managers Bruce and Liane Vance.
Quesnel wrote in an email that Leaderhouse does a lot.
“Dave has organized barbeques, steak nights, and other team functions, he helps organize our annual Christmas and year end banquet,” she said. “In addition he has set up at the local mall, A&W Restaurants, Raider and Minto games selling progressive 50/50 and raffle tickets.”
She says he’s also instrumental in the team having successful game days.
“For the past five years Dave has worked at the front door, penalty box, goal judged, help organized off-ice officials and volunteers, making sure we have game announcers, music, score clocks, and all the necessities needed to have a successful hockey experience,” Quesnel said. “The reason they are there is because of their contact and relationship with Dave.”
Leaderhouse is well aware of his contributions but still deflects the credit.
“I’m not going to deny that I’ve done a lot of stuff for the team,” Leaderhouse says. “I know I have. But I never thought of it in terms of recognition. That first game I saw, I was so hooked on girls hockey because the girls are fantastic people to be around. They’re a hoot on the ice; they’re having fun.”
He said it’s in stark contrast to the serious business that hockey is for the boys.
He also points to volunteers such as Dwight Sachkowski, Gary Schwan, Elder Bergen and Lloyd McBeath who staff the penalty box each game and Jack Sander and Dennis Ogrodnick who do sound for a small stipend.
Together, the Bears have a strong group.
“From having done one tour around the league a couple of years ago, we’re the envy of the league as far as operation-wise,” Leaderhouse said.
Bruce Vance says Leaderhouse’s contributions don’t go unnoticed.
“He’s certainly very passionate about making sure that the girls have everything that they need,” Vance says. “I know even from the time when he managed the team that he was pretty meticulous and always put the girls first.”
The irony is that Leaderhouse was actually trying to step back a bit and lessen his load this year.
“He tried to pull back a little bit but we wouldn’t let him go. He still very involved with the organization …
“It’s in his blood I think and he does just a super job for the girls.”
Still, Leaderhouse says he wishes that Quesnel had been given the recognition.
“Laura and I came into the league at the same time and she deserves this as much as I do, if not more,” he said. “We have forged through some tough times, but mostly we have worked together to help make the Bears one of the best teams in the league.”