Y Profile: Chris Valentine
Growing up in Belleville, Ontario – being drafted into the NHL by the Washington Capitals in 1981, at the age of 19, was a dream come true for Chris Valentine.
He knows how much parents give up for their kids to participate in sports and chase their dreams. If you ask Chris what his favourite memory is about playing in the NHL, it wasn’t playing against the greatest hockey players in the world (although admittedly, he did say playing against the best was a real thrill). Instead, he says, “Without a doubt, it was seeing the smiles on my parent's faces after a game in Maple Leaf Gardens, as they sacrificed so much for me to live out my dream”.
When his hockey career ended, Chris settled in Ottawa and joined the Ottawa Senator’s Alumni Association: a group made up of former Senator players and other former NHL players who now make their home in the Ottawa area. It was here that Chris first heard about the Y’s Lawyers for Kids Hockey Tournament (Formally known as the Jim O’Grady Tournament).
As a long-time friend of Brian Scott, one of the tournaments founding fathers, Chris was asked if he would help with the tournament. While Chris did not know Jim O’Grady personally – he understood from stories just what a special person he was. Chris hoped that by helping one of Jim’s passions - the Y - it would not only help honour Jim’s legacy but in turn help others in our community as well. “I asked a few of our Alumni to join me in the tournament and we had a great time and it just took off from there. I was supposed to play with Brian’s team that first tourney but he traded me for Laurie Boschman before I even got to the rink that day! ” And while he was traded before he even got to his first Y tournament game – he has come back every year since.
“The Ottawa Senators Alumni is very involved in our community and this is another way that we can make a small contribution, and of course everyone my age knows how much the Y has done for people for years.”
While he is very humble about his contribution to the tournament there is no denying that Chris has worked side-by-side with the planning committee to create this successful event. This year the Y and the tournament’s Founding Fathers presented Chris with a citation for all the work he has done to keep the tournament successful.
“I play a very small role in this event, the real credit goes to the Founding Fathers, Brian Scott, Bob Morrow, Gerry Myers and Richard Moore who really got this event off the ground, that and the lawyers and others who come out every year to help support this great event. The last few years Cale Harrison has really taken over the organizing and puts an incredible amount of work into the event, and of course, without Amber Brannan, the event would not be anything like it is"
Thank you so much to Chris and the entire Lawyers for Kids Hockey Tournament planning committee. You are a true testament to the powerful and positive influence a volunteer can make in the life of a child and in our community.
And, just as many things do come full circle, Chris let us know that he first learned to swim at a Y!
“When I was 3 years old we visited relatives in Fredericton NB, my father’s home town. While we were there my cousin who was a swimming instructor at the local Y gave me lessons, I believe it was the first time I was really ever in a pool, and I can still remember him teaching me at the Y!”