Hockey Mom Judy was instrumental in naming the "Gators" and was one of the five original members. Unfortunately, Jane, Judy and Ruth have all succumbed to cancer. Their legacy can now be carried on through the Hockey Mom Foundation and its mission.
Judy was always a strong advocate for children and wanted to start a family at a relatively young age. Part of the reason she wanted to start her family while she was still young is because Judy's mother passed away at age 49 and her side of the family had a history of heart problems (including Judy herself). In fact, Judy was barred from the nursing profession at an early age because of her heart condition.
Judy's four hockey-playing boys were close in age and initially played on four different travel hockey teams. Her only daughter was born three years after her youngest son. The boys' travel hockey teams in Amherst usually held two practices and played two games each week. At that time, the travel teams also held one practice each week before school started in the morning. As an example, Judy's oldest son was on the ice at 5am for his mid-week practice as a 16 year old. In addition to the hockey practices, Judy's sons held paper routes requiring deliveries prior to the early-morning hockey practices!
Judy's husband, Les, also managed three Amherst Travel Hockey Teams and assisted with managing the Junior Sabres Hockey Team. She graciously hosted several parent team meetings each year. Judy's youngest and only daughter, Libby, was also a figure skater at the same time that the boys played hockey. So, in total, there was a minimum of 17 outings each week for the kids!! Judy was the mastermind and the main transportation service making it all happen each week.
As the boys' matured, three of them went on to play with the Junior Sabres and then, at the collegiate level for Brown University and Hamilton College. In total, the boys captured ten New York State Championships and 3 National Championships while playing for Amherst Hockey Teams and The Junior Sabres.
Travel to the National Championships took Judy and her family to Seattle Washington, Portland Oregon, Marquette Michigan, Fort Wayne Indiana, Long Island New York and St. Louis Missouri. Judy was always involved with 1 fundraising to make these trips happen. She helped with several garage sales and many candy bar sales.
While at Brown University and over the 1985 Christmas Holidays, Judy's two youngest sons, Mike and Mark, were invited to play The Chinese National Team in Harbin, China. Their Brown Team was one of the first collegiate teams of any kind to be invited to play in China. The Team was closely watched and the Chinese even pulled down their shades on the train that they traveled on from Shanghai to Harbin. This was a memorable trip, to say the least.
Much of Judy's life was spent in a hockey rink, supporting her kids' love for the ice. Along the way, she developed incredible friendships and also, it allowed her to participate in her kids' lives in a very active and special way. In addition to having a strong bond with her own children, Judy also loved getting to know all of the hockey players on her kids' teams and often invited them to her house for fun after the games and practices. Her love for her children and for their friends and other children was apparent throughout her life, through her dedication and her genuine interest in following their sports and their lives.
The departed Gators are surely smiling at these efforts to fund cancer research, patient care and hockey player education. The Gator Open will only add to their legacy.
Thank you to all of this year's participants in The Gator Open Golf Tournament. Your support for this cause is sincerely appreciated by all of the Gator Families. Most importantly, good luck with the tournament and have fun!
~Les Rechan (Judy's Husband)