“I always felt if my son Anthony was involved in something, I should volunteer my time to help,” says Barb Levere of her interest and ongoing love of hockey.
That was 25 years ago, and while her son is long finished playing minor hockey, Barb is still volunteering.
On Thursday night, November 6,at a Sens hockey game, Barb was recognized for her commitment to minor hockey when she was presented a Hockey Canada Volunteer of the Year Award by Ottawa Senators president Cyril Leeder and Denis Dumais, president of the executive council of the Ottawa District Minor Hockey Association (ODMHA).
“It was quite a privilege,” said Levere during a recent interview in her home in Morrisburg. “I think the proudest person that night was Anthony who always understood, whether he liked it or not, when I was busy with paperwork or heading off to a hockey meeting.”
Barb is also extremely proud that, by example, she has instilled the value of volunteering to Anthony who is now a big brother.
For the last 14 years, Levere has been District 1 Chair for the Upper Canada Minor Hockey League which provides hockey for nine minor hockey associations (178 teams). It is a position that keeps her busy, seven days a week.
Looking back on her 25 year involvement in Minor Hockey, Levere says it was former Morrisburg and District (now South Dundas) Minor Hockey president Billy Donaldson who got her started as registrar in the local association.
While on the Morrisburg Minor executive under the late John Lortie, who was then president, Barb gained experience at the District Level. “It was John who let me go to the District meetings. I learned a lot from John. He was a good teacher, and I respected him and his hockey knowledge.”
At the District level, Barb first served as secretary and then moved to first vice president. She was mentored by Harry Jones of Brockville, “who taught me how to be a good District chair. And [the late] Clara Thompson, she was registrar when I became involved and she was a great help to me.”
In addition to handling the duties of District 1 Chair, Levere is currently the president of the Upper Canada Cyclones AAA Association and president of Zone 1 which is one of five AAA Zones.
“I spend at least 60 hours a week on hockey, some at home and some for travel. I usually take in at least two games per week and sometimes three meetings per week…sometimes more.”
Levere peruses about 75 game sheets daily. In total she receives about 4,200 game sheets every season. “I think I’m up to three file cabinets now as game sheets have to be kept for at least one year. There is a lot of organization.”
The District 1 chair handles and assists with problems that may come up, and sets down disciplinary action as required. Although this is something she doesn’t like doing, she says it is something that has to be done, and she prides herself in that she treats everyone equally and fairly.
“I don’t like to hand out the suspensions, but I am consistent. If someone gets suspended for something then the next guy that does the same thing, gets the same suspension.”
“Since AAA came in we don’t stop. We have meetings all summer. It never stops, and I love it. I’m there for the kids and that is what my main focus is.”
Levere says she has a very strong District 1 Executive, which includes, a registrar, secretary, treasurer and coach mentor and the presidents of each of the nine minor hockey associations, South Dundas among them.
“In District 1, in my opinion, we have a core group of really great referees and our associations are also well run.”
Over the years, Levere has received a number of awards including the prestigious Earl Steinburg Memorial Award for contributions to the community and minor sport, District 1 Volunteer Awards, the Clare Thompson Memorial Award, the ODMHA Volunteer of the Year Award, the HEO (formerly the ODHA) Appreciation Award and the recent Hockey Canada Award.
For the Hockey Canada Award, Barb and her family and friends were guests of the Ottawa Senators at a Sens game. In addition to the award, she was presented a Sens sweater with Levere embroidered on the back.
She says it was an honour to be recognized for her volunteering…to be recognized for something that she loves do…and it’s all for the kids.