More than half a century after he coached them, the Innisfail Pontiacs alumni still remember the wise words of their late coach Larry Reid.
On Monday, the 1962-63 Central Alberta midget provincial champions alumni helped launch the Larry Reid Memorial Coaching Development Fund at the Innisfail Golf Club.
They remembered Reid in a way that goes far beyond the relationship between coach and player.
Several alumni talked about their coach’s philosophies of teamwork, hard work and giving back. Al Scott, who has coached across Canada, said Reid was one of three individuals that had a significant impact in the direction his life took.
Instead of the victories and X’s and O’s, the alumni spoke of life lessons they still carry with them today that were passed on from their late coach.
“It was a pretty common message that Larry was very special to everyone who spoke and the people that went out of there way to come to the fund launch,” said Scott.
“Great person, great family; we’re very honoured to be able to do this.”
In partnership with the Innisfail Minor Hockey Association and Hockey Alberta, the new fund is designed to help coaches in the organization get all the training they need to be better coaches and mentors.
“This is just something that we can expand so if there is something out there that is not a requirement but we feel is going to help our coaches, go out and find it,” said Steve Bates, president of the IMHA.
“Let’s get our coaches to these clinics and make them better; it’ll make our kids better. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Reid died in December 2016, which was when Scott and Vern Fox kick started the campaign to get the alumni together for a project to honour their old coach.
Four months later, the fund holds close to $30,000. The first allocation from the fund will be in this fall.
Scott said the initial benchmark for the fund has already been blown out of the water.
“Hopefully they’ll be enough money that this can go on for a long, long time,” he said. “I think Larry would be thrilled.”
Reid was one of the first level five coaches in Canada accredited by the National Coaching Certification Program. He taught hockey to junior-age players in Harbin, China. He was recognized in 2007 as one of the top 100 contributors by Hockey Alberta for his work in growing the game.
In his earlier years, Reid suited up for the Innisfail Eagles senior hockey team, and he also coached the group. Many former members of the Eagles were also on hand at the announcement. The team plans to honour Reid as well for its 70th season this year.
Larry’s son, David, said his dad would have been proud of his former players because he loved seeing them succeed.
“I think what dad enjoyed most was quietly watching the successes of the people he coached. Seeing where they went and how they grew up in whatever they did,” David noted.
“There’s so many years watching him do what he did well. He was very humble about what he did and he just sat back and watched. He would tell stories long into the night about those successes.”
David said to see his father memorialized in such a way means a great deal not just to the family, but the community of Innisfail, as well as the coaches and players that will benefit from it.
“The goal here is to create something that continues that legacy so they’ll be more guys,” said David.
“We can create another Larry in terms of the next generation of coaches.”