When I decided that January 27th, 2016 was going to be my last game officiating on the Ontario Hockey Association, it was a pretty easy decision to go back to Strathroy for my last game. I have so many memories in the West Middlesex Memorial Arena growing up as both a hockey player, a coach and a referee that it was only fitting. I played my minor hockey there, my only Jr. B hockey game there sitting on the bench for the Alymer Aces’ as a backup goalie and I got to referee my first OHA game there one snowy night in 2004. I didn’t tell many people that I had made the decision to retire from the OHA because I personally did not think that it was a big deal.
However, thanks to so many people, you made it feel like it was a big deal. I need to start by thanking my wife, Lory, for all that she did to raise awareness of the night but also for the support over the years as an official. I can’t count the number of nights that I walked in the door from work, grabbed my hockey bag and a warm meal that she had made, and was off to some rink in Southern Ontario. Without her support I would not have been able to skate as long as I did.
The Strathroy Rockets, truly made the night special for me and I truly appreciate what they did for me. With the help of Mike Brooks, Gary Dodds and so many others, my officiating crew felt like true professionals from the moment we walked into the rink. My family, friends and fellow officials were taken care of and my girls were treated like royalty.
Thank you to the Ontario Hockey Association for the years of service award, to the Rockets organization for the framed jersey and the $500 donation to Ref4Rett, and the Rockets players for their $150 donation from their team fines.
A very special thanks the Brantford officials, who are like family to me, for the framed picture, the $500 donation to Ref4Rett and for making the trip to Strathroy to watch the game and celebrating my retirement with me.
While there were some mixed emotions, in the end, I have a significant feeling of accomplishment and pride! I enjoyed the moment and look forward to the next chapter of my life where I won’t be making a difference on the ice, but hope to be making a significant difference in the life’s of so many people impacted by Rett syndrome.