Patrick J. Doherty - A Tribute to a Hockey Mentor and Innovator, News (Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario)

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Aug 14, 2015 | T. Martindale | 19808 views
Patrick J. Doherty - A Tribute to a Hockey Mentor and Innovator
Patrick J. Doherty passed away on Tuesday, August 11th at the age of 87.  After I received this information that afternoon, my first reaction was sadness and my thoughts immediately went out to his wife Gloria and the entire Doherty family.  Following the initial shock and sad news, I began to reflect on the impact Pat had on my life and the thousands of others including Coaches, Players and Administrators involved in the game of hockey. 

I was not only fortunate but privileged to have spent my first year as a Hockey Administrator (in 1989) alongside Pat who had, back then, just recently retired from the Waterloo Catholic School Board.   It was obvious then and still can be said now, that one of the best words I have to describe Pat is Mentor.  Our relationship developed and I spent 15 years with him working with the Kitchener Minor Hockey Association and the Kitchener Hockey School. 


I learned quickly that the more time spent with Pat, whether it was travelling across the country to other Minor Hockey Associations, Governing Bodies or Hockey Canada everyone knew Pat Doherty.  The minute you introduce yourself as being from ‘Kitchener’, Pat Doherty’s name comes up.  Pat was specifically recognized by Hockey Canada with two prestigious awards; the Gordon Juckes Award in 1997 which recognized Pat’s contribution to the Development of Amateur Hockey in Canada at the National Level (Nominees are from the fields of research, sports medicine, psychology, Coaching, officiating or related categories) and the Award of Merit in 1986 for his many years of service to Hockey Canada (then the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association).  Pat continually served Hockey Canada up until this past Tuesday, some 29 years later.  Through his tireless contributions, I think it was possible that Hockey Canada may have exhausted their selection of available awards for Pat!


Regardless of whether it was locally in Kitchener, within the Ontario Hockey Association or within Hockey Canada, Pat was well-known and highly respected.  After spending many years working with Pat, I saw first-hand what he created in terms of Hockey Programming in the Kitchener Minor Hockey Association, the Kitchener Hockey School and the Fundamental Hockey School.  There were many more initiatives that Pat contributed to at both the Minor Hockey and the Junior level but I wanted to focus on the three areas that I am most familiar with in order to pay tribute to Pat.


Kitchener Minor Hockey Association

Pat was instrumental in creating a full-time, paid position known as Secretary-Manager in the early 1980’s for the Kitchener Minor Hockey Association.  The creation of this position was intuitive, visionary and way ahead of its time.   The position involved managing all levels of hockey from AAA to House League and affected well over 3000 participants.  Again, I can’t stress enough how the creation of the position involved tremendous foresight as it enabled all levels of hockey to be kept under one umbrella, in one City where others failed in this area and are now dealing with competing associations for Representative and House League Hockey programming.


Fundamental Hockey School

The Fundamental Hockey School to this day, is a City of Kitchener operated program for entry level players, ages 5 to 8 (created at approximately the same time as the Secretary-Manager position in KMHA).  Registration initially went directly through Pat and later fell under the responsibility of the KMHA Secretary-Manager.  Partnership between the City of Kitchener, Kitchener Minor Hockey and under the leadership of Pat Doherty provided a great opportunity for first-time participants and their parents to learn the game of hockey.  The Kitchener Minor Hockey Association benefitted as Pat recruited the next wave of Volunteer Coaches, Conveners and Managers, usually the parents of the 700 plus kids who participated in the Kitchener Fundamental Hockey School.  I know for Pat, it was so special and rewarding to see generations of Fundamental Hockey School participants learn the game of hockey, progress to Minor Hockey and then repeat the process as parents themselves. 


The Kitchener Hockey School

The Kitchener Hockey School was created in the 1970’s and operated for well over 30 years.  Pat Doherty was there from day one and made sure that the program was not only affordable but featured quality programming.  The school was a partnership between the City of Kitchener and Kitchener Minor Hockey Association, with the Secretary-Manager on the Staff of the Kitchener Hockey School.  Pat was instrumental in recruiting local Hockey Coach, Don McKee as the school’s Program Director.  Mr. McKee spent 30 years alongside Pat, while he and the Secretary-Manager of KMHA managed the Registration and Co-ordination.  At the peak of the Kitchener Hockey School’s success, over 1,400 participants were registered for one of the six weeks of both day and evening school programming.  Furthermore, the Hockey school provided first-time employment for many Tri-City Hockey participants (over 100 people were employed in the on-ice hockey programming).


Pat Doherty was a true Innovator and through these programs he successfully mentored and touched so many people.  The programs that Pat created have been emulated throughout the Country and recognized both locally and nationally by Hockey Canada. 


Pat had so many special and unique qualities.  He was a great team player who brought people together.  Pat led by example and was always the hardest worker on the Team.


Patrick J. Doherty will be greatly missed but fortunately his legacy will live on through the Hockey Programs he created and through the many lives he touched.


Above in May 2015, Pat Doherty was the special guest at the 2015 OHL Gold Cup hosted at his namesake arena.
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