September 2, 2013 – One of the most powerful moments in hockey is when a player puts on a jersey for the first time. Receiving the honour of wearing your team’s colours and being acknowledged as a member of the group is a feeling that all hockey players, from Hockey 1 to the NHL, cherish. At North Vancouver Minor Hockey, when the time comes to receive that symbol – and with it the unlimited potential of the season to come – you pay a visit to Don Woodman.
Woodman, the association’s equipment manager, is a perfect fit for the job. Having started his relationship with North Vancouver Minor Hockey nearly twenty years ago when his sons started playing, Woodman eventually transitioned from volunteer coach to part-time employee, although the occasional 14 hour days spent between at the rink and the team’s equipment storage facility hint at a commitment far greater than the part-time label suggests.
“I love it,” said Woodman, when asked what drives him year after year. “I really enjoy keeping everything organized. It’s an all year round job and there is always something to do.”
Woodman’s office, a rented storage locker, is neatly stacked from floor to ceiling with jerseys and socks, as well as some other equipment. Everything is catalogued by tags and indexed in a paper binder system that in a way represents all of the hours he has put into the job over the years.
“We have 1100 players, so with home and away jerseys for each one, that’s well over 2000 jerseys that I have to organize,” said Woodman.
North Vancouver’s blue and green colour scheme, matching that of the Vancouver Canucks, also helps build pride in the uniform and has even attracted the attention of passers-by to Woodman’s locker who were interested in buying some North Vancouver gear. Woodman has had to politely decline the purchase offers. “We have some great suppliers, and our jerseys are produced right here in the lower mainland,” said Woodman.
Aside from curating the jersey collection and ordering replacements when old ones wear out, Woodman also oversees the association’s goalie equipment.
“We provide goalie equipment from H1 all the way up to Juvenile,” said Woodman. “It’s still a bit of a secret, and more goalies could make use of it, but it’s there if they need it. It’s pretty high end now and we want to get the word out to parents that we have it available.”
With the costs of buying goalie equipment increasingly dramatically over the last 20 years, North Vancouver Minor Hockey Association is taking active steps at ensuring that players with an interest in the position are able to pursue it, thus limiting the impact of the goalie drain that is slowly working its way across minor hockey in Canada.
Finally, one of the most rewarding parts of the job, according to Woodman, comes when equipment is occasionally donated by junior or professional teams and he is able to pass it along to players who both need it and appreciate it.