Leann Smith has been honoured with a Life Members’ Volunteer Award from BC Hockey for her hard work and dedication developing minor hockey in the East Kootenay for the past 17 years.
“I was shocked and honoured when I got the call about it,” Smith said. “Being nominated is in itself an accomplishment and it’s very humbling.”
“Because as a hockey volunteer you normally only hear the bad stuff,” she added with a laugh.
Smith started volunteering before she had kids and even after her own son was done playing hockey she kept at it. In fact, though she has 17 years with the East Kootenay, her involvement with minor hockey actually spans a total of 37 years, across three provinces.
“It’s a great sport and I do it for the kids, not for anything else. Just for the kids.”
She started volunteering back in Ontario, then had a five-year stint in Manitoba, before moving to Cranbrook.
“When we moved to B.C. I was done with hockey volunteering,” Smith said. “And we were only there two months and I was involved again.”
Over her many years of volunteering, Smith has filled a huge number of different roles. Most recently over the 2020-21 season, obviously a difficult one due to COVID, she was the East Kootenay Zone Lead for the AA program, which are the U15 and U18 teams. There was a committee that helped out but she was basically responsible for all the day-to-day operations for that.
She was the East Kootenay treasurer, and East Kootenay BC Hockey Operations Task Group member and the district Registrar for both the East and West Kootenay.
BC Hockey, in their post about the award, call her a “truly remarkable volunteer” and say she was the driving force behind bringing the Zone program to the region.
“Leann’s focus has always been about providing an amazing MHA for the players in her area,” the release said.
“An environment that would help them grow and flourish as people as well as players. This focus has allowed Leann to do many remarkable things and has spurred her on even when times were difficult. It would take far more than a ‘no’ from the naysayers to deter Leann from achieving the highest standard for the people within her MHA.”
When asked what keeps her so dedicated after so many years she said that it’s always been about the kids for her, and that she’s met a lot of people throughout the years, some of whom had remained very close friends.
“There is nothing better for me than being at the rink and seeing kids come off the ice smiling,” she said. “And knowing that you’ve had a small role to play in that is very rewarding.”