Mike was born, July 7th, 1953 in Chicago. He lived and grew up in Park Ridge. His love of hockey started early on the pond just a block from his home, putting on skates in the snow, his dad teaching him to skate at age 3. He played his first organized youth hockey through Michael Kirby, with Paul Rhuby at Oak Park, then competing with “Park Ridge Park Board”, Elmhurst, Wilmette and with the Chicago Minor Hawks, a club started by his Dad and “Big Bill” Roche.
The opportunity and inspiration provided by the Minor Hawks staff, Coach Bob Gatcke, and his team mates gave Mike the good fortune to play NCAA hockey at Ohio University, under Coach McComb, later turning down an opportunity with the Milwaukee Admirals, playing college club hockey and finally graduating from Illinois State University in 1976.
Mike developed an exceptional passion for ice hockey and “giving back”, instilled by those early inspiring experiences. When playing competitively was no longer an option for him, he began coaching and enjoyed almost 25 years behind the bench. After college graduation, Mike coached the Franklin Park Panthers and the Flames at Franklin Park Ice Arena, teaching learn to play hockey as well as coaching players through Pee Wee. Later Mike would coach his sons on Travel Bantam and Midget and High School hockey teams.
His career in international business prevented him from continuing to coach, thus he has been involved in hockey exclusively as an administrator for the past twenty some years; first as administrator and President with the Sabres Youth Hockey Association and seven years with the Naperville Central Redhawks board and the past 17 years with AHAI and USA Hockey, and the Central District.
In 2000, Mike was asked to join AHAI as a Director by then AHAI president, Mike Lebarre. The past 17 years as an AHAI Board member, Mike has been responsible for various events and positions: House Hockey Chairman, High School Chairman, AHAI Treasurer, the High School State Tournament, Blackhawk Charities Christmas tournament, “AHAI College Night”, the Chicago Showcase Event, and the Illinois Showcase Boys Team, Player Safety Chair, Tier I Chair, President of the Illinois High School Hockey League and many other hockey duties and responsibilities. Mike ultimately served 6 years as AHAI’s President.
Mike and his wife Barb have been married 35 years, having lived in Naperville for 23 years. They have 3 boys, Michael 34, (a goalie, go figure), Mark 30 and Matt 21 years old. The two oldest boys both played and coach today. Matt continues to play at Illinois State. One of Mike’s greatest joys was watching them grow through participation in Illinois hockey.
“It has always been my pleasure to serve others in our hockey community. I have always had the great good fortune to work with some wonderful people, at Franklin Park, the Sabres, Naperville Central, AHAI, Central District and USA Hockey. They are truly the “bread and butter” of hockey in Illinois. I have met so many wonderful people through hockey. The hockey community is so much the better for the people who volunteer and devote their time and energy to our kids.”
Mike would like to thank all those that have gone before him to make involvement in this sport such a great growth experience for our youth (including his sons) – as well as those who will follow, and carry on the great traditions of our sport for today’s youth.
Categories: Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame