Football community mourns Van Loon

A titan of football in Red Deer — as a coach, referee and league founder — Ken Van Loon died late last week. The long time volunteer wore many hats coaching Grade 9 basketball and junior football at Lindsay Thurber as well as the Red Deer Packers, a former Alberta Junior Football League team. A teacher, Van Loon, 71 at the time of his death, started at Eastview Middle School and taught at Lindsay Thurber.

A titan of football in Red Deer — as a coach, referee and league founder — Ken Van Loon died late last week.

The long time volunteer wore many hats coaching Grade 9 basketball and junior football at Lindsay Thurber as well as the Red Deer Packers, a former Alberta Junior Football League team. A teacher, Van Loon, 71 at the time of his death, started at Eastview Middle School and taught at Lindsay Thurber.

While at Eastview Middle School he also coached track and field and basketball.

He officiated football and basketball games and founded and became president of the Central Alberta Football Officials Association.

He, Jay Hetherington and Gino Castellan helped found three football leagues in Central Alberta at the bantam, pee wee and atom levels. They rearranged the bantam program to get two of the high schools involved and founded the pee wee and atom leagues that still run today.

“Ken, above all, was a good citizen,” said Hetherington. “He was passionate about kids and sports and the good it can do for them.

Hetherington, president of Football Alberta, collaborated with Ken as both a colleague, Hetherington was the guidance counsellor at Lindsay Thurber, and a shared passion for football.

“He loved to organize things and see things happen,” said Hetherington. “He loved to take a concept and make it happen.”

Hetherington described Ken’s referee style as “a little bit different.” Ken was never able to shed his coaching mentality as he would always teach, even as a referee.

“He would throw a flag and then say ‘I’m not throwing the flag this time. But it’s because you did this and I could have thrown the flag. If you do that again I will.’”

His son Roger spent some of his childhood on the sidelines as a ball boy.

“He took me to games and practices all the time,” said Roger. “When he was the assistant coach for Lindsay Thurber, I remember being on the sidelines with him as a ball boy. I got to be there watching, going to practices and even close road games.

“It was like an extended family, the players look after you.”

Roger said Ken has battled to stay alive for the last four months. He died on March 18.

Roger described Ken as “very passionate” when it came to football. Ken taught physical education.

“He cared for his kids too,” said Roger. “He loved us.”

In 2011, Ken was given a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to sport in the community by the Sports Council of Red Deer. He was also awarded a lifetime membership to Football Alberta in recognition of his contribution to the sport and officiating.

While a student at the University of Alberta, he was on the 1967 Vanier Cup winning Golden Bears football team.

Just Posted

Hospitalizations jump in Red Deer due to opioid poisonings

Small city hospitals impacted more by opioid crisis

Central Alberta councils learn more about Bighorn Country proposal

A collection of central Alberta politicians are learning more about the province’s… Continue reading

High-speed chase led to fatal collision, jury hears

A Delburne man accused of manslaughter caused a fatal rollover collision during… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

TORONTO — Canada Soccer has named striker Jordyn Huitema and defender Derek… Continue reading

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had… Continue reading

‘Modern Family’s’ Sarah Hyland had second kidney transplant

LOS ANGELES — “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says she had a… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Most Read