To many hundreds of hockey and softball players in Barrie, Ralph Webb’s face is as familiar as that of any coach or manager they may have had. Webb, now retired from his job as a truck driver, has served as a trainer, assistant trainer and equipment manager for hockey and softball/slo-pitch teams for more than 25 years in Barrie. Although at times he’s been given a small honorarium from teams he has helped out, the vast majority of his work has been as a volunteer: There have been many, many nights when Webb would get home from his job and drive straight to the arena. After a game, and usually one to two hours of cleanup which would make him the last person out of the dressing room, he’d go home again in the wee hours of the morning to grab a few hours of sleep before returning to work the next day. The Barrie native got involved with the Barrie Colts Junior B hockey team in the 1970s and has served as one of the team’s most dedicated volunteers ever since. This season, when the Colts moved into the Major Junior ranks, Webb became an assistant trainer with the club. He was also a trainer with softball and slo-pitch teams for about 15 years in the 1970s and ’80s, but he is best known for his years on the bench with the Colts. In fact, it’s tough for many hockey fans to imagine a Colts bench without Webb’s face at the end, ready to hand up a stick, towel, sharpen a skate or do any of the myriad of jobs required of a sports trainer. Webb was a lifelong sports fan, and a regular at hockey games at Barrie Arena during the heyday of Senior and Junior hockey here in the 1950s and ’60s. He and wife Fran have seen every hockey notable to have played in this city in the past 50 years, and his love of sport was what led him into his involvement with the teams. Webb says what has kept him in the dressing rooms over the years are the players, of whom he once said “it keeps me young, and they are all super kids.” Webb’s dream was to be a part of a Major Junior franchise, and his involvement with the Colts this past season made that come true. He says he has no intention of giving up his passion, though he is considering a request from some coaches that he works with them with a minor hockey team next season.
Other nominees for the 1995 Coach/Team Official of the Year were:
Bob Clarke: You might call Bob Clarke Mr. Volleyball in Barrie’s high schools since he started coaching the sport in the early 1970s. He arrived in Barrie in 1965 and coached football at Central Collegiate for about eight years before switching to volleyball. He has coached all but two seasons since, taking both boy and girl teams at all age levels. Clarke moved to Barrie Eastview Secondary School in 1980, and began building one of the best volley ball programs in the county. His clubs have captured at least seven Georgian Bay high school championships. Clarke has also helped out with countless other GB champion teams. Last season, his junior boys’ team finished first in its league, and then qualified for the Georgian Bay championship tournament only to lose in the championship game. His girls’ team lost only once in their league and tied for first, but were upset at the zone playoffs. His involvement doesn’t end with coaching. He runs or helps out with six tournaments each season, both for high school and elementary players. He is a National Coaching Certification Program Level III coach, an accredited referee, and as his last hurrah before retiring in January of 1997, Clarke is one of the main organizers of the upcoming Ontario high school championships which will be staged in Barrie.
Scott Taylor and his wife took up curling to make friends when they arrived in Barrie; what he’s done since is to help create champions. Taylor has become a coach and volunteer for many curlers and programs run out of the Barrie Curling Club since 1984. He is now self-employed, owning a curling and golf supply store that runs out of the club. He is the coach of a team of bantam boys who won the gold medal at the Canada Winter Games last year, and his junior men’s team in 1995 reached the Ontario regional championships before being knocked out. Taylor also volunteers with local programs for blind curlers, high school and elementary school students, runs clinics for curlers at all levels of the sport (concentrating on novice and intermediate athletes), and is involved with the High Performance Camp in Peterborough each year. He branched out into curling instruction in 1987 when he began assisting with clinics for developing curlers. In 1989 he began coaching, and is now a National Coaching Certification Program Level Ill coach and is working on his Level IV certification. Following the latest trends in sports, he is also involved in developing physical training programs related specifically to curlers, and has begun working with sports psychologists to assist his elite young athletes. He has also included a community involvement program with his athletes. They trained for, raised money and took part in the Terry Fox Run in Barrie last year, donating their money to cancer research. They also competed in the Heart To Heart Bonspiel, a fund-raiser for the heart and stroke foundation.