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Fred Helsop Minor Hockey Week Award - AJ Sander
Thursday, April 11, 2019

AJ SANDER

Richmond Female Minor Hockey Association

It is a great pleasure for me to nominate Amarjit "AJ" Sander for the Fred Heslop Minor Hockey Award.

AJ has been coaching in Richmond for 36 years. He started coaching with Richmond Minor Hockey Association (MHA) in 1983 as an assistant coach at the age of 13.  He was still playing hockey at the time as a Bantam age player.  He was an assistant coach from 1983 to 1988. He worked with Stu Stubbs, the first head coach to take him under his wing and mentor AJ as a coach.  He has worked with several other coaches over the years refining his skills.  In his last two (2) seasons, as an assistant coach, AJ worked with Ron Dewsbury, who eventually give AJ his first opportunity as a head coach.

In the 1988 - 1989 season, Ron told AJ it was time for him to coach his own team.  AJ's first season as a head coach was a tough and interesting year. His team lost every game up to Christmas. After the Christmas break, his team didn't lose a game and went on to win the Richmond Minor Pee Wee House Playoff Championship.  AJ coached two (2) more years at the rec level before making the jump to rep hockey in 1991-1992, where he coached the Richmond Minor Bantam B2 team.

AJ coached at the rep level from 1991 to 2007, coaching teams from Pee Wee B to Midget AAA. During the years as a rep coach with Richmond MHA, his team qualified for BC Hockey Championships three (3) times.  The Midget AAA team qualified twice for provincials, with AJ as the head coach. The Midget B1 team qualified once and finished second at the 2001 - 2002 Midget Tier 2 BC Hockey Championship, losing by a goal in the final to Kelowna. AJ won the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association (PCAHA) and Richmond MHA Coach of the Year in 1995 - 1996. He went on to win the PCAHA Coach of the Year again in 1998 - 1999, becoming the first coach to win the award twice.

AJ has won 23 different championships as a Richmond MHA head coach and several coaching awards (as mentioned) including Long Time Service award in 2006.

In the 2007-2008 season, AJ became head coach of the Richmond Girls Ice Hockey Association Midget AA team, and has now been coaching the team for 12 seasons. Over the 12 seasons, the team has qualified for 10 consecutive BC Midget Female championships, winning four (4) BC Hockey Championships, four (4) silver medals and one (1) bronze medal.  His teams have played in eight (8) consecutive Midget female championship games, and have twice won back-to-back BC Hockey Championships.  As well as medaling nine (9) consecutive years, AJ was winner of the Richmond Sports Council Coach of the Year in 2007 - 2008.

AJ has been a very dedicated coach and has worked hard to better himself as a coach every season. Over 36 years, he has only coached his on sons three (3) times each and has been a non-parent coach for most of his coaching years.  Two (2) years ago, AJ was invited to Beijing, China to evaluate 200 Chinese players.

I am guessing he has coached 300 to 400 hundred players. To give you a sense of how long AJ has been coaching, he has coached the children of a player he coached in his first year as a head coach in 1988.

AJ has touched the lives of so many players over his coaching career, both as a coach and a mentor. This year AJ was inducted into the Richmond Sports Hall of Fame for his years of coaching. He won his 1,000th game as a coach this season and has now coached over 1,700 games.


 
      

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