National Volunteer Week is April 24-30. Throughout the week Hockey Alberta is showcasing individuals who have dedicated their time to giving back to the game.
RED DEER – Calgary’s Wally Kozak and Perry Cavanagh epitomize the definition of volunteers who have given back to hockey not just across the province, but across Canada as well.
Kozak was instrumental in the development of female hockey in Canada. Known as one of the best technical hockey coaches in the world, Kozak has more than four decades of involvement at all levels. His work includes serving as head scout and manager of player development for Canada’s Women’s Team, and winning a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics Gold Medal as an assistant coach for Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team.
While Kozak reached national success, he never forgot about the grassroots and continues to serve the game at all ages and levels. To share his knowledge and continue to learn, Kozak started the “Sharks” Club. What started in a small coffee shop in Calgary, now has well over 150 weekly members from across the world who share their experience, leadership and hockey wisdom.
After leaving Hockey Canada, Kozak dedicated himself to serve “the good of the game,” bringing his knowledge and experience to Hockey Alberta. For more than a decade, Kozak has served as a writer/developer, skills coach, course conductor and mentor in Team Alberta’s grassroots program. In 2018, Kozak was inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame.
Cavanagh is a devoted volunteer. Like many, Cavanagh began volunteering in minor hockey as a coach for his oldest son’s team. From there he moved to the administrative side. Taking on several branch committee responsibilities, he also served as a member of Hockey Alberta’s Board of Directors. Cavanagh also served as President of Hockey Calgary and was the Board Chair of Sport Calgary. During his tenure with Hockey Calgary, he was influential in the implementation of the Respect in Sport program throughout the organization. He has been an avid supporter of minor hockey in Calgary for over 30 years.
To recognize Kozak’s and Cavanagh’s contributions to the game, the City of Calgary announced the renaming of two arenas in Calgary in March. Max Bell Arena #2 will be named the Perry Cavanagh Arena and the Village Square Leisure Centre Arena #2 will be known as the Wally Kozak Arena.
In the City of Calgary press release to announce the renaming of the arenas, Ward 10 Councillor Andre Chabot said:
“Calgary has a rich sporting history and Perry Cavanagh and Wally Kozak’s contributions are unquestionably a part of that fabric. Their success and excellence as sport and community leaders merits this recognition.”
For Kozak and Cavanagh, an arena seems like the most fitting legacy.
“We believe that the arena is the heart of every community, and we can’t think of better men to share their names and legacies on facilities in the City of Calgary,” said Rob Litwinski, Hockey Alberta’s Chief Executive Officer.
Volunteers like Cavanagh and Kozak are key builders to the development and growth of hockey in Alberta. To every volunteer who continues to give back to the game, thank you.