Greater Trail sport has lost a long-time treasure with the passing of past BC Hockey president and Diamond Stick Award honouree Fred Heslop last week.
The Trail native served BC Hockey from 1992-2008 as a member of the BC Hockey Executive Committee, was president from 2004-06, and enjoyed perhaps the highlight of his service to hockey at the age of 64 when honoured with the Diamond Stick Award in 2007 – the fifth Trail resident to receive the distinction.
“It’s a very difficult award to accept,” Heslop told the Trail Times following the ceremony in Whistler. “Especially when it’s given to you by your peers. I didn’t have a clue it was coming. I was probably the most surprised person in the room.”
Heslop began his involvement in minor hockey in 1962 with the likes of Trail residents Gerry Godfrey, and fellow Diamond Stick Award winners Jim Anderson and Jim Mailey mentoring the young coaching protege.
The avid golfer also played senior hockey in Rossland and Trail prior to coaching, but once behind the bench the dedicated father of two led the Trail Juveniles to a provincial title in 1968 and co-coached the Trail Midgets to a provincial silver medal.
As his two sons, Mark and Darren, began their respective hockey careers, Heslop returned to coach at the house-league level and referee minor hockey games for many years until Tom McLean convinced Heslop to join the provincial organization.
In 1992, Heslop was first elected to the BC Hockey Executive committee as the West Kootenay district director and held this position until 1996 when he became an officer of BC Hockey. Heslop served as the Chair for multiple programs and represented BC Hockey on National Committees until 2004.
Just months before receiving the prestigious Diamond Stick Award, Heslop was also honoured with the Sport BC Presidents’ Award for his volunteer work with B.C. Hockey. His comment at the time of receiving the award aptly reflects his dedication to the sport of hockey, but even more so his humility and generosity of spirit to those he came into contact with.
“I was very lucky, I was working with some excellent people,” Heslop told the Times. “It’s nice to be singled out, but the reason we all get into this is to give something back to the game we love.”
A celebration of life will be held for Heslop at the Royal Canadian Legion in Trail Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m.