MACKLIN — Don Crich has been named as this year’s recipient of a special award given by the Macklin Minor Hockey Association that acknowledges an individual who has impacted and shaped the way their organization operates today.
The award was presented at a recent Macklin Mohawk game.
“This award shows us that our efforts volunteering not only steers our future generations of kids, but continues to show them what it means to be a community,” said Jerry Reinbold during the presentation.
Crich has an extensive list of commitments and years of service to MMH that include being a player, a parent, a coach, a referee, referee-in-chief, serving as vice-president of the association and now past-president.
Crich’s father was one of four founding individuals who started the minor hockey association in Macklin some 63 years ago.
“He would not have known how much both [his] and his son’s years of dedication and volunteerism would leave such a lasting impact on our community through kids’ sport,” Reinbold said.
“We believe that if it weren’t for his some 15 plus years on our executive board our program wouldn’t be in the same position it is today … Don, we sincerely thank you for your many hours of time spent in and around the Macklin arena.”
Serving 12 years as a coach, Crich was able to offer his positive influence to many young men growing up through Macklin’s hockey system.
Crich is also known for his work on the ice, where for more than 25 years he wore the stripes and held a whistle in his hand. He also served as referee-in-chief for 20 years. In that role he taught and mentored young officials, including his own son, who has officiated more than 650 games in the WHL.
“My father was my inspiration,” says Crich. “He was one of the founders of Macklin Minor Hockey and made it possible for all of the kids to be involved in organized hockey. As a young man he volunteered in the RCAF in the Second World War, the ultimate in volunteering. The culture of volunteering just came natural as that was what we grew up with.
“I remember that every fall you would pay $1 and get a membership card for Macklin Minor Hockey. All of the families collected box tops from Jell-O pudding and that is how the first set of matching jerseys were purchased.”
Crich was quick to acknowledge his wife, whom he commended for helping out with the executive in a finance role; ensuring booth revenues were collected and deposited after a busy weekend.
“We were just a small part of a large group of volunteers that it takes to make an organization such as this successful in any small town.”
In addition to his minor hockey commitment and volunteer role, Crich has served 30 years with Macklin Fire Department and has also been part of volunteer efforts with Macklin Minor Baseball.
Since Crich’s move to Red Deer, Alta. he has volunteered as an off-ice official for Canada Winter Games in 2019, the Gretzky/Hlinka Cup in 2019 and the World Junior Hockey Championship in December of 2021 until COVD-19 forced cancellation.
“Volunteers are critical in any organization, and it is also very rewarding. I don’t regret any minute that I spent volunteering,” says Crich.