Spending their weekend mornings racing to Larry Grossman Arena has been commonplace with Forest Hill Hockey Association parents for 50 years.
For league president Hersh Forman the observance of Canada’s pastime is an added plus to bringing Forest Hill families together.
“(The association’s) a place where kids and their parents come to have fun and a place where they learn what it means to be part of a community and to develop friendships, many of which last a lifetime,” he said. “There are many parents on our board and coaching who played together as kids.
“If they learn something about hockey along the way, then that’s a bonus.”
Calling Larry Grossman Arena on Chaplin Crescent home, Forman said the association’s 600 kids playing on 35 teams have remained grounded in the community.
“Sometimes people will ask me how many of our players in our 50-year history have made the NHL and I tell them ‘Zero, and your kid probably won’t be the first, so you might as well relax and have a good time’.”
Even the roots of hockey were celebrated during Grossman Arena’s early days as the ice surface once had no roof.
The association thought of paying tribute to that facet of heritage by holding a game outdoors for the association’s half-century milestone, but Forman said the idea was nixed.
Instead they are planning to get alumni together to celebrate its golden jubilee.
“We’re looking at getting together everyone who has played in the league, probably at the arena almost like a high school reunion just to go back over some of the pictures and events over the years.”
One Forest Hiller looking forward to the festivities is Harold Cohen who got involved as a coach in 1968.
Son Mark, then eight-years-old, was late joining the hockey league, so he was tossed in with a ragtag team of kids.
That team’s coach asked Cohen to fill in for him, and Cohen’s predecessor never returned.
“That’s how I got started,” Cohen said. “I coached a team that couldn’t win a game, and then after that you had the typical guy who was involved.
“From coach to convenor I became a vice president and a president.”
Cohen left the association in 1994, but Mark, almost 50, is involved along with Harold’s 16-year-old grandson.
With three generations witnessing the change, it’s hard not to get excited about 50 years.
“There were some pretty good hockey players there, but they knew they were there to have a good time, do some bonding and hanging together and doing positive things,” Cohen said. “For me, it was a hoot because I practice law and for me it was a very pleasant off-shoot that created a balance in my life.”
Even though he is no longer part of the executive, Cohen helps with the hockey league’s charitable wing, which donated $25,000 to the Bloorview Kids’ Rehab Centre last year.
It’s all made possible through the interest accumulated from the league’s capital, Forman said, and the volunteers who help out on a constant basis.
“There’s a lot of places where people can put their time these days and we’re blessed with a lot of people who give us one of the greatest gifts: their time,” he said.
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