Bert Dow has been involved with the game of hockey for most of his life and this year he led Hockey Manitoba’s Board of Directors through one of the most challenging periods in the organization’s history.
Dow, 61, took over as Hockey Manitoba President on June 1, 2020, replacing Bill Whitehead who served as President for eight years (2012 – 2020). Dow previously served as Vice President (2017 – 2020), Chair of Female Hockey (2014 – 2017), and Chair of Minor Hockey – Rural (2010 – 2014).
Born in Pointe-Claire Quebec, Dow moved to Manitou in 1991 from Rosetown, Saskatchewan. He first became involved with minor hockey in 1994 as a coach at the Initiation level (now known as U7) and was Past President of the Manitou Minor Hockey Association. In 1997 Dow became a member of the Pembina Valley regional executive and was Director of the region for four years. His family moved to Morden in 2001, where he became a member of the Morden Minor Hockey Association Executive.
Dow has always been passionate about female hockey in rural Manitoba and the development of female players and was involved in the formation of the Manitoba Female U18 Hockey League in 2007, serving as the league’s first ever President.
Dow has volunteered at a number of national events over the years, most recently as part of the Host Committee for the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship that was held in Morden and the 2017 Esso Cup that was also held in Morden. Dow was also on the Mission staff of Team Central for the 2010 Manitoba Winter Games.
When Dow looks back at the 25+ years he has spent volunteering in hockey, it always comes back to the great people he has worked with who all truly care about the game and their communities.
“I get a lot of self-satisfaction out of volunteering for sure,” Dow said. “It’s in my blood I think. It’s kind of like playing hockey. You’re going to go out on the ice and give it your best for your teammates so it’s the same mentality but you just take it in a different direction when it comes to volunteering. You don’t want to let anybody down.”
In addition to navigating Hockey Manitoba’s Board through all aspects of the branch’s original Return to Play (RTP) plan this past year, Dow has been heavily involved in the ongoing and regular reviews of RTP protocols, to ensure the health and safety of members across the province.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most of the 2020 – 2021 season, there was hockey being played at various levels for two full months in the Fall because of the thought and planning that went into Hockey Manitoba’s Return to Play plan and the implementation of that plan by members throughout the province.
“None of us have been through a pandemic before so I don’t think anything could have prepared any of us on the Board for what we faced going into the summer and certainly into the Fall when it came to Return to Play. It was definitely challenging,” Dow said. “Thank goodness I was retired because I don’t know what I would have been able to do if I was actually working full-time.”
One of Dow’s greatest experiences being involved in minor hockey was to see two of his three children giving back to the game after they were done playing.
After his son Brett’s playing days in senior hockey ended, he became an outstanding on-ice official, where he officiated and mentored young officials in Zone 4 and was assigned to two league championships. Brett also took on the challenge of coaching in the Zone 4 High School League with the Pembina Tigers and then as coach for the SEMHL’s Carman Beavers, winning a league championship.
After Bert’s daughter Jenna-Leigh was done her playing career she went on to become an Assistant Coach with the Central Plains Female U18 AAA Capitals that went on to the Esso Cup representing Manitoba in Red Deer. She was also the mission staff for the Manitoba Winter Games (Female Team Central) and a special guest coach with the Pembina Valley U15 Challenge team while playing with the Pembina Valley Hawks U18 AAA.
“You want to see your kids benefit from people who have volunteered throughout their minor hockey league career and then when their opportunity comes and they decide that they are going to give back to the game, it is just really satisfying as a parent. You want your kids to succeed in sports but you also want them to get other life skills out of it besides the sport itself.” Dow said.
Hockey Manitoba would like to sincerely thank Bert for his tireless commitment and dedication to the game in our province.