Since the end of the 2011 hockey season, I've had a chance to sit down with a very important member of the DinoMights family. He's been hauling kids around longer than any of us staff members, and really has been through it all with Hockey in the Hood. Our Red Van pauses to reflect on Dino Life, and his coming retirement.
Kids and hockey bags loaded into the Red Van
SH: Red, to say the least you have seen it all. Remind us how long you have been at it here.
RV: Well, I'm a 1996 Red Ford E350 15 Passenger Van. So I've been around since near the beginning of DinoMights. Why, some of the teenagers I drove to practices in the late nineties are in their late twenties now! Most of them have graduated high school and some of them are parents themselves!
SH: Wow, that is really something when you think about it that way. You are still chugging along though.
RV: That is right. In fact just this winter I transported DinoMights PeeWees, the District One Champions! It has been ten years since I chauffered the PeeWee Champs. I even drove them to the Hockey in the Hood Tournament all the way in Detroit, MI. You know, it never gets old.
SH: What never gets old?
RV: Well, what we are doing here at DinoMights never gets old. The smiles on the faces; stories the students tell in the back seat. Actually, inside me is probably one of the most important places for relationships at DinoMights. Also, I feel pretty important. Many parents can't regularly drive their daughters and sons to DinoMights. So without me many students wouldn't even be able to participate. They wouldn't build the relationships or create the stories.
SH: That is a great point. Without transportation we wouldn't be able to serve some of those same students you talked about who have grown up and graduated.
Now you have had a few recent surgeries. How is your health?
RV: Well, let me assure you I am still very safe. All my seat belts are in working order and I recently got new tires. But, the reality is I am getting older and I don't have a garage. At some point I'll have to train in a new van.
SH: Red, you have every driving record known to DinoMights: Most miles, Most Kids, Most hockey bags, Stinkiest hockey bags, etc. You are surely a first ballot hall of famer. Are you saying it is time to hang it up?
RV: Oh, right now the pieces are in place. As long as I can perform at a high level I have one goal, and that is to lead kids to Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual Excellence. But 2011-2012 is likely to me my last hockey season. I'm not sure though.
SH: Truly you are the Brett Favre of the Dino Van world, and we hope that whoever follows in your footsteps, DinoMights will find a very capable replacement for you.
RV: I'm sure they will, and I'm sure that the community of DinoMights supporters will really get behind the effort! Thanks for giving me a chance to share.
SH: Thank you for your long and important service to DinoMights!
Red Van arriving home from camp