Bill Greene was a teenager when he first coached minor hockey in the tiny town of Saint-Bruno, Que.
The smiling, highly likeable Greene has never stopped promoting hockey, and today, at 62, is the new chair of the board for BC Hockey. The organization, with 130 associations, 60,000 players, 10,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers, is in good hands. Greene was chosen at recent AGM meetings at Sun Peaks Ski Resort in Kamloops.
Twice, Greene jumpstarted Junior B franchises in the North Okanagan, first in Enderby with the Kings, in 1993, and then again, in Armstrong with the Knights, in 2009.
“I realized from the Junior B experience how important it was that there was somewhere for kids to stay at home and play at that level,” said Greene, who lives in Falkland. “North Okanagan was one of the first minor hockey associations to have a Junior B franchise (in the Kootenay International League).”
Born in Montreal, Greene’s father worked for Bell Canada. Bill was one of seven kids in a busy household which often took in children needing a home.
“I came out here one summer looking to pick fruit and never went back,” laughed Greene, who raised five daughters. “I worked one year for White Trucks and then got into forestry and the music industry. It’s been a long haul in hockey. I got involved in Armstrong minor hockey in the mid ’70s and was referee-in-chief in the mid ’80s. I was there (president) when Armstrong and Enderby amalgamated their associations. Bill Ross was president in Enderby.”
BC Hockey turned to Greene to be a master course instructor for its Speak Out and Hockey Canada Safety programs in 1992. A former Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association (OMAHA) director, Greene performed those duties for several years and was out of minor hockey for a few years when he was asked back by North Okanagan minor hockey.
His association mandate included attention to practice-to-game ratios, introduction of cross-training and summer hockey school development.
“We revamped things. We hired Aaron Hoffman (coaching director) and we opened the boundaries and brought in the Zone programs. There were so many great people that I have had the opportunity to work with over the years. Two locals that both served as presidents of BC Hockey, Al Berg and Wilf Liefke, worked tirelessly for the kids that play our game and taught me tons about the game and how much it has the ability to enrich people’s lives.
“Still being called ‘coach’ is so special. I also worked with so many great volunteers. They have had a large part in my success in hockey over the past 40+ years. People like Gary Phillips, Patsy Vetter, Joanne and Ken Davies, Rhonda and Bill Burr, Shelley and Rick Hawrys, Dickie Robinson and so so many others supported my efforts in hockey in the Okanagan. Without them, I would never been able to get an opportunity to become chair of the board of BC Hockey.”
Greene gives major props to his employer, Kingfisher Boats, of Vernon.
“Our company is very community minded and actually offers all of our 150 employees a paid day from work to do volunteer work. Our company is family oriented and goes the extra mile in our communities with support for different organizations that of course includes hockey. How great is that?”
Greene replaces Randy Henderson of Prince George, who completed his two-year tenure as chair. BC Hockey’s membership voted four candidates to two-year terms as directors: Darryl Lerum (Fort St. James), John MacMillan (Victoria), Neil McNabb (Surrey) and Stephanie White (Nanaimo). Grant Zimmerman of Prince George will serve a one-year term.
Chuck Campbell (New Westminster), Brian Harrison (Mill Bay) and Andrew Jakubeit (Penticton) are entering their second year as board members.
Former NHL forward Sandy Moger, director of coaching for Greater Vernon Minor Hockey, is high on Greene.
“We worked with him early on when he was with North OK and began to open the borders,” said Moger. “He’s very knowledgeable of the hockey world and knows what needs to be done. He’s been on so many boards and I think he’s going to do a great job for BC Hockey. He’s put his time in and has so much experience.”
Greene gives credit to OMAHA president Chuck Gallacher for making the Zone Rep programs a success by working closely with member associations.
“My philosophy is there is nothing we can’t do together,” said Greene. “Together, we can find solutions. We can sit down and put our heads together. I’m going to be on the go. It’s a big province and it’s our 100th anniversary. I will be doing a lot of travelling.”
Greene, who is stoked about the new BC Hockey mascot, Selly, is grateful for family.
”I need to mention my girls who made sacrifices for me to be involved, and my parents who taught all of us kids that dedication and hard work are the true keys to success. And a special mention to my dad who preached that Greenes don’t quit or give up at anything, and working together as a team makes you unbeatable.”