Stratford, ON – ALLIANCE Hockey is pleased to announce that Al Scheklesky (Kitchener, ON) has posthumously been named the recipient of the 2019-20 ALLIANCE Hockey Trainer of the Year award.
TRAINER OF THE YEAR – Al Scheklesky, Kitchener Minor Hockey Association
Growing up, Al Scheklesky played hockey and once his playing days were finished, he remained involved with the game through his work as a coach and trainer.
He was active with the Kitchener Minor Hockey Association over the past 5 years helping out with various teams and would have received his 5-year Volunteer pin at the end of the 2019-20 season.
With the Kitchener Jr Rangers Major Midget AAA team, Al held a variety of roles including Equipment Manager for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, Assistant Coach during the 2017-18 season and Trainer for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
During the 2017-18 season, he was an on-ice helper with the Tyke House League Flyers.
Also, during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, he was Trainer for the House League Platers.
Al was affectionately known as the “The Mayor” to the 2019-20 Major Midget AAA team because he was more than the trainer for the Jr. Rangers – he was the go-to guy who would do anything to help the team. His commitment and behind the scenes work were similar to that of an OHL club and helped to elevate the team.
Prior to team practices, Al would hand out the practice jerseys, bandage and mend many ailments, sharpen skates (he would even bring his own skate sharpening machine with him on road trips) and have all the necessary tape ready for the team. When the team was out on the ice, he would clean the dressing room, collect garbage, vacuum the Coaching Staff's room, complete player injury reports, etc. Once practice was over, he would collect all the jerseys, garments and towels and efficiently complete the washing .
Al would consistently make sure that player equipment was in good repair and properly fit the players. He was especially attentive to new players when they received their "red gear" (helmets, gloves, pants) to ensure that the fit and condition of the equipment was satisfactory.
Al would always arrive at the arena 3 hours prior to game time so he could prepare the freshly washed game jerseys, and set up his skate sharpener. He would set up the glove dryer, fill the water bottles, prepare the Gatorade and provide tape for the players. Al would purchase and set up a pre-game food table for the team (bagels, peanut butter and jam, Nutella, dried fruits, granola bars, grapes, bananas...everything the hungry athletes would need). He would make sure that the extra sticks, tool kit and the med-safety kit were set up at the bench well before game time. He would have the previously frozen game pucks bucketed and brought to the timekeeper’s box. He would also supply spare pucks to the away team and put them on their bench ready for warm-up.
In between periods, Al was always ready to fill up the water bottles and of course, tend to any aches and pains.
At the end of each game, Al would wheel everything back to its proper location, collect the jerseys and the other random pieces of clothing that the players wanted washed and have it all laundered and prepared ready for the next game.
"It would be 11:30 at night and you come back into the equipment room and there's Al washing whatever the kids need, there's Al prepping their equipment for the next day," remembered Kitchener Minor Hockey Association General Manager Rolland Cyr.
"That was typical Al, always giving, always helping out other people," said Head Coach of the 2019-20 Midget AAA Jr Rangers Dave Clipper.
Sadly, Al suddenly passed away on Thursday, February 6, 2020 in Windsor, before one of the Major Midget AAA games as a result of complications from cardiac arrhythmia.
Al is so missed by Kim his wife of 27 years, his three daughters, son-in-law and his KMHA/ALLIANCE Hockey family.
Posthumously, we are proud to recognize Al Scheklesky as the 2019-20 ALLIANCE Hockey Trainer of the Year.
Watch the video presentation here.
Thanks for everything Al.