Another decorated season for AJ Sander has concluded by being honoured by B.C. Hockey.
The provincial organization has named Sander among this year’s winners of the Fred Hislop Minor Hockey Award — as part of national volunteer week.
Sander’s remarkable contributions to minor hockey in the city includes guiding the Richmond Ravens Female Ice Hockey’s Midget rep program for the last 12 years. He capped his most recent campaign with a gold medal win in Fort St. John last month — the team’s fifth provincial banner and the ninth time Richmond has played in the gold medal game during his tenure.
Sander initially spent 25 years coaching boys teams with the Richmond Minor Hockey Association, stepping behind the bench for the first time when he was still a teen.
His tireless volunteer commitment is not for the accolades but for love of the game.
Last September, he was inducted to the Richmond Sports Wall of Fame and is a past two-time winner of Pacific Coast Amateur’s Coach of the Year Award.
“I just found a passion and coaching was something I was able to excel at,” said the 50-year-old father of three who works for the City of Richmond. “I don’t think I could walk away. I think I have just invested too much time now. Someone at my work said ‘you use your vacation time (to coach) hockey?’ I don’t think twice about it and just adjust my life schedule around it.”
Sander’s winning formula with the Midget Ravens includes having alumni players coming back to work as assistant coaches. His wife Satwant has also been by his side since day one as the team’s safety person.