IHHF Bio Series: Jim Neville

Jim Neville
Builders’ Category ~ Class of 2017

Jim Neville has always been a coach. For the past 41 years, this 1955 Fenwick High School Alum has volunteered as a youth hockey coach. It all started in mid-1970 when Jim was coaching Mitey Mite Youth Football with his friend Jim Ray. Ray’s son played for the Park Ridge Hornets Hockey Organization and he asked Jim to be his assistant coach. Jim’s team won State his first year coaching, so you can say the rest is history. After a few seasons, Jim began coaching with Jim Smith, the current USA Hockey President, and they became great friends because of their passion for volunteering. During Jim’s years with the Park Ridge Hornets, he not only coached but also gave it a go one year as the President of the organization.

In the mid-1980’s Jim played a big role organizing the Northern Express Hockey Club that merged both the Niles and Park Ridge Hockey Clubs. Jim became a coach for the Northern Express and helped build this new hockey program. The Northwest Hockey League in Franklin Park, Illinois, gave Jim the Coach of the Year Award for his accomplishments with the Express Hockey. After a couple of years, Jim’s reputation brought him to High School Hockey. He coached first for Maine Schools where he was successful in helping them to win a State Championship. He then went on to win the 1992 State Championship with Notre Dame High School. In 1985, Jim had the honor of coaching for the U.S. National Development Camps during the summer in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid.  Each year Jim coached a select group of players for these camps in a span that lasted for more 14 years.

Jim’s next great adventure began in 2003 when he became a coach for the Chicago Hornets Sled Hockey Organization. For Jim, coaching sled hockey was vastly different than able-bodied hockey. It has been an unexpected great pleasure for him to be part of this amazing program. Sled Hockey has taken Jim to a far greater level as a volunteer than he ever thought possible. As in the past, Jim was asked to be a coach for disabled athletes at Hockey Development Camps up until 2015. That same year the Butkus Chicago Youth Sports Legacy Foundation honored Jim with the Youth Sports MVP Award in recognition of his dedication to coaching.

In June 2017 Jim was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois for his years of service to youth hockey in the state.

Jim was born in Chicago, raised in Park Ridge and currently resides in Mount Prospect with his wife of 58 years, Judy. Jim has three adult children and eight grandchildren; the youngest is the only one to play hockey. Jim has said that the gratitude that he has received for doing a good job and helping others is all he ever wanted.

The IHHF Induction Dinner will be held on Sunday, January 28, 2018 at the Belvedere Banquet Hall located at 1170 West Devon Avenue in Elk Grove Village beginning at 5:00 pm. Tickets are available by contacting Norm Spiegel at 847/269-2922 or e-mail Norm at jacole@comcast.net.

Categories: Hockey Headlines, Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame, Leadership in the News

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