COACH! – In Memory of Kirk Kelly, News (Newmarket Minor Hockey)

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COACH! – In Memory of Kirk Kelly
Submitted By Murray Taylor on Wednesday, April 1, 2020
It is with sadness that we inform the local minor hockey community of the passing of Kirk Kelly, often just referred to as “Coach”.

As you go through life, you realize that everyone around us makes an impact on our own lives. Some small and passing, some large and influential and then there are those few, who make a significant impact on your life that can change your direction. They bring you perspective and can influence your thinking in so many different ways that as you grow, you become grateful for their understanding, knowledge and reasoned counsel. Coach was one those few. He’s made such a positive impact on so many lives not only within our minor hockey community but in the larger community as well.

It is with absolute gratitude that we remember the many stories. If you speak with anyone who has known Kirk, they will have a warm story about the man. Here is just one story sent to me upon him learning of Coach’s passing. 

“Kirk Kelly coached me for several years as a young man, and his influence as a coach and mentor had an enormous impact on me at these most important years before I became an adult.  Kirk had a wonderful ability to get the most out of his players, and his players loved him for it. Kirk always put an emphasis on individual character and made sure that every player on his team, despite their ability, felt that they were as important as any other player. This is why his players loved him, everybody loved to play for Kirk and would play their hearts out for him. He was the only coach I ever had where players could get motivated simply at the idea of making Kirk happy and proud of them.  

As a young man I was often selfish and was somewhat of a “problem player” in my minor hockey days.  But I was tremendously lucky as I became a teenager, Kirk’s son Martin was my age and he volunteered to coach NMHA rep for our age group.  Kirk was aware of the problems that a player like me could bring to a team and of course Kirk was big on player’s character and team unity.  In Kirk’s wisdom, he decided that he would make me captain, and force a rather large leadership role on me despite the misgivings of many people within the team. This decision changed my life forever, it forced me as a young man to think of my team first and it changed my outlook on my own character forever. I have been a coach within NMHA for many years now, and I can honestly say that without Kirk Kelly as my coach and mentor as a young man, there would be one less volunteer coach in NMHA.  His contribution to NMHA and hockey will continue even after he has passed, as people like me who Kirk has influenced try to pass these lessons on to the next generation of NMHA coaches and players.  Kirk will never be forgotten.” 

Sean Ayre 

His sense of humour was ever present and his compassion for others, self evident. Coach held many different beliefs about the game and the place minor hockey held in our lives. Over the years, he told many a Coach “As a minor hockey coach one may think that our job is to grow good hockey players, but it really is to grow great citizens.” And one of his greatest thrills was to have players he once coached approach him, whether it be at a rink or about Town, to just say hi and have a quick ‘catch-up’ on what’s going on in their lives and this happened often. Coach made an IMPACT!

Coach’s resume in Newmarket hockey is long and storied.

    · He first started coaching in our House League in 1985 and then moving on to       
      coach many Rep level teams.
    · He was named Coach of the Year in 2001
    · Kirk was the first volunteer Coach Mentor for the Association as well as a Hockey 
      Development Program Lead, Coach-at-Large and Trainer-at-Large so he could fill  
      in whenever needed. 
    · He joined the NMHA Executive in 2014 as the VP of HL and in January 2016 was 
      appointed as the interim President
    · In 2016 he was named as the Drew Doak recipient, presented to members for 
      their significant contributions to the NMHA
    · Throughout the years, Coach also sponsored a number of Midget/Juvenile team’s,  
      known as Kelly’s Heroes
    · Kirk also spent countless hours assisting our Administration staff in the office.         
    · In 2019, Kirk was recognized in the York Region Portraits of Giving in the sports 
      category recognizing his many years of giving of himself to our community. 

Thank you, COACH! The Newmarket Minor Hockey Association is a better and stronger Association because of you. You touched so many in such a positive way with your grace and humanity and we are all, forever in your debt.
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