1983 Yukon Nuggets
Back in 1959, my last year in high school, I and three of my school chums played in the Whitehorse Senior men’s hockey league. We were all fresh out of Juvenile hockey, barely old enough to drive and had the good fortune of playing for one of the best hockey coaches ever to hit the Yukon.
Roy Reber was from the old time hockey school of hard knocks. He scheduled so many practices that our school work began to suffer, but the late night practices in the cold Civic Centre (later Jim Light) arena were making men out of us boys in a hurry.
He was yelling "hurry-hard" long before Russ Howard made the admonition famous at various curling championships. He taught us to keep our heads up and watch out for the other guy. For Roy, in hockey, defense was everything. Any player who didn’t like to back check would spend a lot of time on the bench. What kind of men did Roy Reber make out of us teenagers?
Well, the town Merchants team that year beat the older, tougher Army, Air force and Dawson&Hall teams to win the Whitehorse Senior men’s hockey title. Final score in the final game was 6-2, Merchants over Dawson&Hall. I still have the boisterous team photo to prove it.
Roy Reber was born in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1923. He moved to Whitehorse in 1948 and became very active in the sporting community. Sports were Roy’s life. He played hockey, basketball, fastball, badminton, golf. In 1967 he coached the men’s hockey team at the first Canada Games in Quebec City. In 1971 he coached the women's team at the Canada Games in Saskatoon.
Roy was an invaluable worker during the early years of the Arctic Winter Games. He attended the first games in 1970 as a basketball player. In 1972, he was the General Manager when the games were held in Whitehorse. In 1974 the Arctic Winter Games Corporation appointed him to the Steering Committee. He remained a member of the Board of Directors until 1978.
He served on the National Advisory Council for Fitness and Amateur Sports. In 1983, Roy Reber was inducted into the Sport Yukon Hall of Fame for his life-long commitment to coaching and promoting many sports.
I can still hear the sound of his voice echoing through the crisp air of the Civic Centre arena on any given cold winter night.
"Hurry-hard and keep your head up."
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.