Pat Payton, Sports editor
A man who has volunteered over 20 years in the St. Marys Minor Hockey Association won the prestigious Pethick Memorial Award last Thursday night at the community centre.
For Rob Kittmer, it’s a deserving honour. It’s given annually for outstanding contribution and dedication to the SMMHA.
Kittmer just completed his third season as the association’s ice convener. And he’s worn many other hats with minor hockey over the years.
He’s been first vice-president, president (2007-08), and he’s also been the main organizer of the No-Body Contact tournament for the past five years. Rob and his wife Laurie spent have spent countless hours at the PRC—from morning to night—keeping the popular NBC tourney running smoothly.
In addition to overseeing the SMMHA’s Fish Fry for several years, Kittmer has served as Tyke convener as well as being a coach and trainer for various teams.
“This award means a lot to me to be recognized,” Kittmer, 43, told the Journal Argus afterwards. “I’ve been in the association since I was five. It’s close to 40 years, starting with playing and refereeing.”
His volunteer work gives him a chance to give back to minor hockey.
“It’s what everybody did for me as a kid,” he said. “There were always guys like Switz (Harold Switzer), Gibby (Ron Gibb) and Shack (Glen Shackleton), they were always doing the work when I was a young player.”
Family members present were Rob’s wife Laurie, son Tyler and daughter Tanna.
Making the presentation were Wayne Pethick and his son Rob. Other nominees for this year’s Pethick award were Mike Morning and Pete Frehner.
Smale receives coaching award
Greg Smale accepted the Ferris Stewart Memorial Award for dedication to long-time coaching and excellence in the SMMHA.
A passionate coach who demands hard work from his players, Smale has guided the ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams for the past two years. He coached the Frayne A-E Bantams prior to that.
At the podium, Smale said Ferris Stewart came along before his time, but knows the award “sets a high standard for coaches in the association.”
Smale thanked the many people who he’s worked with over the years, noting that he’s “taken something from all the people you work with. And you’re only as good a coach as the players you coach.”
He also thanked his family members who were present, mother Roberta and brothers Matt and Darren. “Family support is big when you’re a coach,” he said.
Allan Stewart, Ferris’s son, made the presentation to Smale. Brian De Groote was the other nominee for this year’s Stewart award.
“You don’t sign up to coach hockey to win awards,” Smale said later. “You coach for the rewards of coaching kids and making people successful, and making them better people and having an impact in their lives.
“To win this is a huge honour. The guys who have won this award, the Kenny Schiedels and Ernie Littles, to be mentioned in the same breath as them is an absolute honour.
“You win awards while you’re growing up playing sports, but when you’re recognized for being a volunteer and helping to develop kids and being apart of their lives, it means a little bit more to you,” Smale added.
Eight other Major Awards
A total of nine players received the eight other Major Awards presented by the SMMHA last Thursday.
Winner of the Bob Searles Award, for most outstanding male player in the association, went to Lucas Spence. The ANAF Bantams’ captain was rock solid on defence, and was called up to the Legion Minor Midgets when his team was eliminated from the OMHA playoffs.
The Doug Hicks Memorial Award for outstanding female leadership, went to Norampac Peewees’ captain Bridgid Goris. Teammate Abbey Thorup picked up the Dixies Award most skillful and hardest-working female player in the SMMHA.
Goris, Thorup and teammates recently brought home silver medals from the provincial ‘BB’ championships in Etobicoke.
“Bridgid is as good as any hockey player I’ve coached . . . girl or boy,” Peewee girls’ coach Steve Jarrett said. “She leads by example; she is the epitome of a hockey player.
“I’ve coached Bridgid for over 10 years in town. She understands the game, she has heart and is a leader. She is just a phenomenal 13-year-old athlete.”
Jarrett had a long list of good things to say about Thorup as well.
“She is the best athlete that we have,” the coach said. “Every year that Abbey has played minor hockey in St. Marys, that team has either won gold or silver at the provincials.
“To me, that speaks volumes of the value that she adds to any team that she plays on. Abbey makes that big of a difference to a team; she’s a special athlete.”
The Terry Crisp Award, for most colourful and hardest-working male player in the association went to forward Mike Smith of the Legion Minor Midgets.
Kaitlyn Schmidt, of the Hubbard Pharmacy Midgets, won the Lindsay Atkinson Memorial Award, for most sportsmanlike female player—on and off the ice.
The Mike Mattiussi Award, for most sportsmanlike male player, went to hard-working centre Zack Smith of the ANAF Bantams.
Hubbard Pharmacy Midgets’ Ann Gibson accepted the Ernie Little Trophy for most outstanding female goaltender in the association.
Andy O’Connell and Tyler Kittmer, of the Legion Midgets, shared the Donald K. Mossip Memorial Award for outstanding male goalie. It was presented this year for the 30th time.
Awards night notes:
—To start last Thursday’s proceedings, the 11 SMMHA Life Members were introduced by Mark Bodenham, who did another fine job as the night’s master of ceremonies. Life members are: Les Skipper and Ferris Stewart (both deceased), Murray Mitchell, Ray Fowler, Terry Martin, Stew McLennan, Randy Preszcator, Ken Schiedel, Larry McLellan, John Blake and Bill McPhail.
—Teams from Peewee to Midget were introduced, and all team sponsors were thanked.
—When the Norampac Peewee girls were introduced on stage, they displayed their OMHA silver-medalists banner which they won recently in Toronto.
—Prior to announcing the Ferris Stewart Award winner, presenter Allan Stewart got all the players in the audience to applaud the coaches they had this year.