Long-time volunteer inducted into Leaside Sports Hall of Fame

Ian Shaw 'went beyond being a volunteer to being a builder, a champion and an advocate'

Ian Shaw had a pretty simple life motto: if you want to be happy, make someone else happy.

As a husband, father and volunteer in the Leaside hockey community, he did just that.

“He was very generous…anything he could do for anybody, he’d do it,” said Pat Shaw, Ian’s wife of nearly 40 years.

“It was wonderful to have such a fine husband that not only was a wonderful volunteer but a fabulous husband and father. He was playful and funny and had so many other talents.”

Shaw died in March at the age of 65.

On Friday, Nov. 18, he was inducted into the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame for his more than 25 years as a volunteer in the girls hockey community.

Pat and their three daughters – Catherine, 36, Mary Anne, 35 and Jennifer, 33 – attended the ceremony and accepted a plaque on his behalf.

“He was such a wonderful person that it’s nice to see his life celebrated and his contributions to hockey celebrated,” Pat said. “My entire family is proud and delighted that he has been recognized in this prestigious way.”

Shaw began volunteering as an assistant coach in 1989 when Catherine joined the Leaside Girls Hockey League. At the time, it was just a branch of the much larger boys league.

Within two years, Shaw spearheaded a group to incorporate the league and in 1991 he was elected the first president of the newly formed Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association (TLGHA).

In the beginning, it consisted of 12 house league teams. Shaw helped grow it into a league with nearly 1,600 registered players across 93 teams (76 youth and 17 adult).

“It’s the largest in Canada and we suspect it’s the largest female hockey association in the world,” said current TLGHA president Jennifer Smith.

Shaw’s impact went much further than the growth of the league, though. His training and certifying of referees also created new job possibilities for girls in the community.

“Ian went beyond being a volunteer to being a builder, a champion and an advocate. He was instrumental in building a program at Leaside where each year we certify 30 to 60 new referees, almost exclusively young female referees,” Smith said.

“Part of our mandate is also creating hockey leadership roles for women…and Ian did more for that cause probably than any single person in our association.”

Shaw was TLGHA president from 1991-2000 before becoming referee-in-chief of the league, but those were hardly the only titles he held. He was a coach, trainer, manager, timekeeper, referee, convener, vice-president and everything in between.

“He absolutely embodied the character and values we’d want to see, not just in youth sports, but in our communities in general,” Smith said

“Particularly overseeing all the officiating, he just brought such patience and class to the role. When we lost him the feedback from parents, particularly those of young referees who’s been through his program, (was) they couldn’t have asked for a better role model.”

Pat said her husband had a knack for computers and worked a day job as a project manager and systems analyst while still dedicating hours a day to girls hockey in Leaside.

“He worked tirelessly to develop the (Toronto) Leaside Girls Hockey Association,” Pat said. “When he was literally on his deathbed in the hospital and had no energy to do anything, he had his laptop (out)…he was responsible for paying the referees and timekeepers and he saw to it that it was all done and up to date.”

He wanted to make sure his referees and timekeepers didn’t miss a paycheque.

Away from the rink, Shaw had a creative streak. He sang in choirs, played the trombone and guitar (six and 12-string), and helped with local theatre productions, performing in them as well.

When Pat worked as a teacher, he became a favourite visitor of her students.

“He would come into my classrooms when I was teaching, two or three times a year, and play songs for the children…he’d keep them entertained and the kids didn’t want him to stop,” she said.

“After he’d left they’d always ask when he was going to come back again. He gave to so many people in so many ways.”

He was a handyman, fixing up the family’s first home, and a romantic, planting a garden every year for Pat.

She said there was rarely a night that went by that they didn’t go for a walk together after dinner, holding hands.

“A very caring and giving person,” Pat said. “One in a million, I would say. Which is pretty incredible because I had the pleasure of spending so many years with him.”