A VOLUNTEER’S STORY: From trainer to president, Sherwin plays all positions for Colts

Mike Sherwin and his son Ryan after winning the Ontario Minor Hockey Association championship with the Campbellford Colts in 2018. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Mike Sherwin

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For a guy who didn’t play hockey, Mike Sherwin has accomplished a lot in the sport with the Campbellford Colts.

Sherwin, 47, has been volunteering his time with the minor hockey organization for the last 16 years in various positions, from trainer to coach, to president, and now occupying the past-president’s role.

“I’ve kind of run the gamut,” says Sherwin, who has also taught everything from Forestry to English at Norwood High School.

Despite never being a hockey guy, Sherwin’s journey with the Colts began in 2005 when his son Matt started playing hockey in Campbellford, a community of about 3,500, a 40-minute drive north of Belleville.

He found himself at the rink being a typical hockey parent with a cup of coffee in hand but when one of the coaches started looking for a trainer he jumped at the opportunity.

“Standing around the rink is fine, and it’s fun to visit with people, but I’m a teacher so working with kids is kind of my bread and butter, and it’s what I have a passion for,” says Sherwin. “It seemed to be a good fit other than I could barely skate.”

Last season, Sherwin coached the 2019-2020 atom rep league Colts to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) All-Ontario Finals in March – but before the seven-game series against the South Huron Sabres could get underway, the OMHA suspended the rest of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We were actually on the ice when we found out,” says Sherwin. “That was heartbreaking, we had a strong group and that was the goal the whole season…the kids were in shock.”

The OMHA eventually named the Colts co-champions with the Sabres in April and awarded both teams the traditional red hats given to the winners.

The 2020 Campbellford Colts wearing the red hats after being named co-champions of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association All-Ontario Finals.
The 2020 Campbellford Colts wearing the red hats after being named co-champions of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association All-Ontario Finals. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Mike Sherwin

“It’s not the same, it’s definitely not the same as skating around the ice and hoisting the trophy up,” says Sherwin. “I really do believe we were poised to do that. If we would have lost that series it would’ve been a heck of series cause we were flying.”

In his three years as president of the Colts, Sherwin modernized the way the organization looked and operated online, including updating the team’s website, moving registration online and expanding its social media presence to Facebook.

“They needed a computer person is what it came down to,” says Sherwin with a laugh.

Current Colts’ president, Wayne Kerr, says he leans on Sherwin’s knowledge and calls him any time he needs advice.

“I swear he doesn’t even have to open a rule book, he just knows them all,” says Kerr. “He’s a smart guy, and well-respected in the community, so usually whatever he says, people listen.”

The Colts have found their way back to the ice amidst the pandemic, with Sherwin in a “helper” role this year with under-13 team.

He says the team is practising and adhering to all restrictions from the government. Players must fill out online screenings at least 30 minutes prior to coming to the arena, and only one parent is allowed per player.

Sherwin says he doesn’t know when his time with the Colts will end, even if his wife would prefer it to be sooner rather than later, but when he does step aside he hopes the things he built stay in place.

“I’ll stick around and be available as long as they need me,” says Sherwin.