He has sometimes been called ‘Mr. Hockey.”
Over the years, Paul Dossey has been a hockey player, a coach, volunteer and President of the BWG Minor Hockey Association – contributing his time to the sport that he loves.
Dossey played hockey from the age of “four or five" until he was about 20. Living in Mississauga, he went on to coach, and when he brought his young family to Bradford, he brought his skills and his passion for hockey.
“When I came up here, my son was young,” Dossey said, and things were very different, back then. At the time, there was only one ice rink in town, at the old Bradford & District Community Centre on Simcoe Road.
With just one rink, "there wasn't a lot of ice time," Dossey said, and almost all of the focus was on the rep hockey teams. Kids in house league got to practice “only once a month. You can’t get any better that way.”
That’s when he first volunteered to serve on the minor hockey executive. As he noted, “If you don’t like what’s going on, step up.”
His role on the executive coincided with the construction of the Bob Fallis Sports Complex on Sideroad 10, doubling ice availability in the community.
Dossey helped shape a new approach to hockey development, that not only encouraged rep players but gave house league teams the opportunity to develop their hockey skills and build a love of the game.
Under his presidency, BWG’s house league games became as exciting as the travelling and rep seasons. The association opened up opportunities for kids at all stages of development to play Canada's national game, and have fun.
After seven years, Dossey stepped away from Bradford minor hockey for a period, working with the Newmarket Hurricanes instead – but returned eight years ago, to continue to build the Bulldogs into the hockey powerhouse they are today.
The association got a boost with the opening of the BWG Leisure Centre and its two ice rinks in 2014 - a facility that has allowed BWG minor hockey to host eight tournaments a year.
“We bring over 600 teams to these rinks. We get nothing but compliments” Dossey said. “It’s not brand new anymore, but it looks brand new,” thanks to the efforts of town staff to maintain the facilities.
With over 600 kids registered in minor hockey, the Bradford Bulldogs now have three paid positions - a paid administrator, referee-in-chief, and a bookkeeper – but the rest of the board and the association is volunteer.
Dossey has nothing but praise for his fellow volunteers, and all who have helped support minor hockey in BWG.
But after a life in minor hockey, he is beginning to think about stepping back. His son is no longer in hockey, it's his six-year-old grandson who is now going through the “hockey system,” and, he said, "It’s probably time for a different voice.”
He’ll be involved “one more year for sure,”and as a Bradford resident, he’ll always be available to help – but Dossey has been thinking that it is time for others to take the helm.
"I enjoy it, I met some good people," he said, but he added, “I think the Association is in good hands for the future.”
There are challenges, facing minor hockey. Costs have been increasing and, Dossey admitted, “It’s become more difficult to get people to volunteer. Everyone’s lives are busier.”
Families are juggling work, the daily commute, and commitments to a range of activities for their kids.
So far, “People in this town have stepped up when we’ve needed them.” As for the cost of hockey, as someone who has played, coached and organized the game, Dossey feels it is worth it.
“It’s good to keep your kids active in sports. They learn the teamwork, the discipline,” he said. “You meet friends. Team building is important... It’s the life lessons we learn.”
If hockey is going to continue to be a vibrant sport in Bradford, “people need to be involved – or things drop off,” Dossey said, adding, ““If you get involved, you need to be involved. Make sure you have the time to do it.
“It’s rewarding – the life lessons, the teamwork, the camaraderie. You make life-long friends.”
And he added, “I’m a believer that you should give back to the community you live in.”