A slap shot for McGill hockey

If the heart and soul of a national-calibre hockey squad can be found on the ice, its backbone is behind the bench.

Visionary gifts to McGill Athletics and Recreation have helped equip its varsity hockey program with both the on-ice talent and coaching staff to back the men’s and women’s teams. For both teams, the result has been nothing short of a slap shot to champion status.

In 2007, McGill received the largest-ever gift for women’s university sport in Canada when David Kerr, BSc’65, and Sheryl Kerr, BCom’67, established a $1-million endowment to support the Kerr Women’s Hockey Coaching Chair. The Kerrs’ generosity produced huge dividends on the ice when, the very next year, the Martlets became the first McGill women’s team to win a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship in any sport. After this taste of victory, they went on to earn a record three championships in four years.

The same windfall return might be said of the support for Redmen hockey in the landmark gift of $1 million from Stephen T. Molson, BA’63, and Nancy Molson to support men’s coaching, player recruitment and program development. The gift created an endowed position for the Stephen and Nancy Molson Redmen Hockey Coach in 2011. Like the Martlets, the Redmen paid tribute to the remarkable donation on the rink, winning their first-ever CIS national championship the following year. A dramatic overtime victory capped off their tremendous season.

“It is a tremendous boost for our program,” says head coach Kelly Nobes, BEd’97, MA’01.

Thanks to the Molson and Kerr families, varsity hockey athletes – and fans – reap the benefits of philanthropy, as does the community at large. And the puck does not stop at the rink.

“Our student-athletes graduate and become tremendous ambassadors for McGill,” says Drew Love, Executive Director of Athletics. “They go into the community and give back in so many ways, not just in the work that they do, but also in the volunteer activities they get involved in.”