2019 Sports Honouree
A very fitting motto of Kirk Kelly’s is “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child,” by Abraham Lincoln. When Kirk’s son asked to play hockey, he like many other dads followed him to the rink. Volunteering was not on his mind. It was only after his son’s assigned coach couldn’t make practices that he started to help out. It didn’t take long to begin developing relationships with the players; and it was very satisfying to see them acquiring new skills. The next season he offered to be a full-time coach and was behind the bench for sixteen years.
Kirk coached numerous teams including the Richmond Hill House League for Tykes through Atom, Newmarket Rep Hockey for Bantam, and Midget AA in Newmarket. Although games were won and lost, his lasting moments surround the meaningful relationships he had with his players. The most memorable times often occurred after a player he had coached returned to the rink to look him up. One such evening stands out.
During the break between periods, a young man stopped Kirk at rink-side and introduced himself. He was a goaltender who had played for Kirk a number of years back. He shared that he had just graduated university, and then imparted, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it. You taught us that, coach.” As Kirk reflects, he is constantly reminded of these unforgettable moments. His approach is simple: “As minor hockey coaches one may think our job is to grow good hockey players, but it really is to grow great citizens.” When he transitioned to mentoring other coaches, he naturally passed on this thoughtful philosophy.
Kirk believes that most folks want to contribute, and all we need to do is make them aware of the needs that exist and to invite them personally to participate and support where they can. Make the request small enough to manage easily and give the new volunteer a chance for a fulfilling experience they’ll surely want to repeat. It doesn’t have to be a big victory; making a small positive difference has been his goal in every encounter.
As a sufferer of chronic kidney disease, Kirk is particularly inspired by the work of the Kidney Foundation of Canada in the area of assisting patients. Called peer support, he has long participated in this program.
As a man of faith, Kirk has also volunteered in his church for several years and, in the future, he intends to become a licensed worker in the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. It is beautifully obvious Kirk feels compelled to help others wherever he can.