This past season marked Bob Madziak’s 19th year of coaching ringette, getting his start when his then, seven year old daughter signed up to play. Bob checked off the volunteer box on her registration and the rest is history.
Bob did not originally sign on to coach the Prairie Fire, but stepped up in their inaugural season when no one else did. For the first three years, Bob juggled two teams, Prairie Fire and his youngest daughters’ team, U14AA APFG Sixers. He scheduled out of province tournaments for the younger team to coincide with Prairie Fire away series, running from one game to another. He was on the ice three times a week, alternating practices between the two teams.
This past season, for no particular reason, Bob made his decision to retire. Although he would have liked to go out as a Champion, leading the Prairie Fire to a solid first place finish in the Western Division and finishing just short of the medal round at the NRL Championships, was a great accomplishment.
There have been many great moments over the years with this young group of ladies, lots of laughter and good fun. Bob thought he had seen it all having raised three daughters of his own, but there have been many times the female psyche and group dynamics have left Bob scratching his head in disbelief. He learned to just go with the flow.
In as much as Bob will carry fond memories of the Prairie Fire players, Bob has left his mark on them. Defensive player Sylvie Bohemier will never forgot her eight-hour drive to Saskatoon with Bob. No one told her you had to pack “Hot Pockets” for your feet and a sleeping bag to stay warm. Bob likes his car temperature at least 10 degrees colder than the outside air.
Bob’s responsibility as head coach was not just on the ice, he was also held responsible for leading the convoys to and from the arenas. Whether Bob was the lead car or not, it was always his fault for the team getting lost or for the convoy getting split up. Center Ainsley Ferguson recalled the time the team was in Vancouver and she was a passenger in Bob’s vehicle. Bob had already taken a lot of heat for poorly leading the convoy that weekend. Of course, against his will, Bob was forced to lead the group yet again, and as is the Prairie Fire nature, the group got split up. Knowing he would be blamed, he redirected his frustration on the rental car saying…”I can barely see the clock; it’s as if it’s in another time zone.”
Bob’s impressive hat collection just enhanced his sharp dress style and one time he even got some help from the Saskatoon Wild Head coach Dwayne Andreen in completing his ensemble. The shoes were a little big but Bob looked good.
Since Bob’s retirement was announced in the off season, he was asked if he had any parting words for the Prairie Fire. “Coaching Prairie Fire has given me the opportunity to work with a great group of young women. The team is still pretty young by NRL standards but has matured dramatically over the last few seasons into what should be a contender for years to come. Like any group of individuals, the team has faced adversity but this group of dedicated, hardworking and tough young women have taken it head on and grown as individuals and as a team. I am very proud of what they have done in a short period of time and I am proud to have had the opportunity to share in that experience. It has been extremely rewarding and I wish Head Coach Rick Montsion and the Prairie Fire players all the best.”
The Prairie Fire players never got to send Bob off in style and thank him personally for his hard work and his unselfish commitment to the team over the past five seasons. The Prairie Fire would like to take this opportunity to publicly tip their hats, raise their sticks and salute Bob Madziak.
THANK YOU and CHEERS BOB!