St. Louis Blues assistant coach and Innisfail native, Ray Bennett, will be the keynote speaker at the Community Sports Awards banquet, Feb, 26 at the Capri Centre, it was announced Thursday.
Bennett, a graduate of the University of Alberta, first joined the Blues on Dec. 13, 2006 after spending close to seven years with the Los Angeles Kings, where he was involved in the tactical and technical play while specializing in video analysis, computer assistance and statistical support.
Prior to joining the Kings, Bennett was involved with a number of teams and organizations.
The former RDC Kings coach was a manager of high performance/video for the Canadian Hockey Association and national team program. He worked with the national junior team at the 1999 world championships, the Canadian women’s team at the 1998 Olympics and 1999 world championships. He also worked for the Spokane Chiefs and Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, the 1995 World Junior Hockey Championship committee in Red Deer, Hockey Canada and the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association.
Bennett is looking forward to returning home
“When first asked to be a part of this event it certainly hit home for me,” he said in a news release. “In every sense I’m a product of the ‘grass roots’ sport system. I grew up in Innisfail where I played organized youth baseball, hockey and high school football.
“I also played high school rugby and tennis and took advantage of any organizational and public facility. I played as much pond, road and grass hockey as my mom would allow. I’ve been very fortunate in my professional career to be able to work in hockey and coach for going on 27 years.”
Bennett went on to say he never played pro hockey, “or even close”, but through the opportunities he had as a youth and his love for the sport, competition and healthy living he was able to hold the belief he could work in a sport he loved.
“If I worked hard, listened more than I talked and was willing to seek education and learning I believed things might work out. I addition I was exposed to incredible adult direction and support from my parents, coaches, mentors and friends. It always seemed there was someone willing to share their knowledge and experience with me and push and prod me when necessary and point the way.
“These people were those who valued the role and saw the benefit of a strong grass roots sports system. Those people existed 100 years ago for me and thankfully they still exist for the local kids in the Red Deer area. I’m honoured and humbled to have this opportunity presented to me.”
The title sponsor for this year’s banquet is the Red Deer Primary Care Network.
Nominations for this year’s awards will close Jan. 21. Nominations can be made at www.scord.ca/awards.htm