Derek Denoyer was born on October 21, 1961 in Kankakee, IL. When he was five, his family moved to Buffalo, NY. Surrounded by snow and ice, Derek put on his first pair of skates and stepped onto the neighborhood pond. His love for the game of hockey began.
Over the next 12 years, Derek’s passion for the game grew. He quickly went from house league to travel hockey, which included many early mornings and hours in the family station wagon. Derek then played on his High School team and then juniors. This led to playing at the collegiate level in Rochester, MN. In 1979, his proudest moment as a player came when he was invited to attend a try-out session for the 1980 Olympic team in Detroit, Michigan.
Derek used his knowledge of hockey to begin officiating games. He refereed at various levels for over 20 years. In 1982, Derek also began his career as a coach and builder of youth hockey clubs in IL. He was a co-founder of the Kankakee Irish H.S. Hockey Club. He served as the Head Coach, President and League Director for the next 11 years. In 1993, he was co-founder and assisted in the creation of the Lake County Kings H.S. Hockey Club. This team provided players from eight different high schools the opportunity to enjoy and play hockey. From 1993 to 1995, Derek served as the Head Coach and Vice President of this club.
It was in 2003, when Derek became a Kankakee Valley Park District Commissioner, that he had his biggest impact on youth hockey in his hometown of Kankakee, IL. Through grants from the State of Illinois and other local partnerships, Derek helped guide and oversee the construction of the Ice Valley Centre in Kankakee, IL. The ice rink opened its doors in 2005. That is the same year that the Kankakee Coyotes Youth Hockey Club was founded by Derek with the help of friends, Jeff Renville and Jamie O’Connor. Their mission statement then is the same today, “Everyone that wants to play hockey, will play”, and “We will never turn a child away because of the inability to play”. This is one of the major reasons youth hockey in Kankakee continues to grow.
From 2005 to 2012, Derek held various positions within the Kankakee Coyotes. He was a head coach for the Squirts and Pee Wees. As a board member, he was Vice President and the Rules and Ethics Chairman. The Coyotes were in the South Suburban Hockey League, which Derek also was a Board Member and Rules and Ethics Chairman. He served on the Board of the SSHL alongside IL Hockey Hall of Fame Member, Bill Holke, who was President of the league for many years. In the past few years, Derek has been involved with the Orland Park Vikings Youth Hockey Club. He served on the Board of Directors and is Pee Wee Assistant Coach for his youngest son Dawson’s team.
Derek married his wife Melissa in 1994. Together they have three hockey loving children. Derien 19, Dylanie, 15 and Dawson 11. All three have participated in the sport and have their father’s love of the game. Melissa has also participated as a volunteer and supportive mother, wife and fan. When Derek was asked to describe some of his most memorable accomplishments he replied, “First and foremost, to introduce, teach, and enjoy the greatest game on earth with his family. Secondly, life is a collection of experiences and my goal is to always provide the best experience I can to players, parents, and families. Over time, no one remembers wins or losses, but they remember if they had fun and learned something. That is why the game is so great. It creates lifelong memories and enjoyable experiences with teammates and family.”
Categories: Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame, Leadership in the News