- 1998 Sportsperson of the Year
“The big thing for me is honesty” said Don, “I have always been candid with my players, the parents, the officials and opponents.” This is an attitude that has had impact on the young people whom he has coached throughout his career.
It was the manner in which Roy Kelly, coach of the Drumheller Miners when Don played there, demonstrated in his management of the diverse personnel of that team. He was the person closest to being a mentor for Don and the person he credits for his candor. The unique mandate of the Calgary Canucks complements this background of Don’s. It is a completely volunteer group whose players pay to play for the team. While this sometimes becomes difficult for players and families, the payoff is the many who are rewarded with scholarships to colleges and universities.
Don grew up in the Tuxedo Park community where he participated in many of the sports activities but especially hockey. From Tiny Might and Bantam teams, then onto the Midget and Juvenile Rangers before playing for the Junior Buffaloes, then the Calgary Cowboys. He finished his active playing days with the Western International Hockey League Drumheller Minors and the Calgary Stampeders. He is a product of the Calgary Board of Education, graduating from Crescent Heights High School in 1965. He takes some pride that the Junior Varsity and Senior Varsity football teams on which he played, won the City Championships from Saint Francis, a rarity at the time. His education continued at S.A1.T. where in 1969 he graduated with a Mechanical Engineering Certificate. Don is currently the Assistant Manager of McMahon Stadium. Rita, his wife of 26 years, and he have three children: Daniel, currently at S.A.I.T. in Computer Science; Jennifer, a U. of C. Education Graduate; and Jeffery, a Computer Technician in the city’s computer industry.
Don is one of the people who began the Southern Alberta Major Midget League (SAMM) now known as the Alberta Major Midget League, and the sponsor of the MACS Major Midget Tournament. His coaching career began in 1972-73 with the NEAA Juvenile Melton Realtors. This was followed by six years with Junior, Bantam, Midget and Tiny Mite Teams before he settled in with the NEAA Midget AAA North Stars from 1980 through to 1985. In the 1986 season, he took over the NEAA Jr. A Canucks of the AJHL until 1990-91 when it was back to the Bantam level for two years, up again to the Jr. A Canucks where he coaches today. His resume for coaching includes four AJHL Coach of the Year citations, along with a similar designation for taking the 1981 North Stars to the Air Canada Cup. There have been additional recognitions from the Alberta Amateur Hockey and 3M Coaching Awards. It is unfair to try and single out a best year and/or a best team but a great thrill is something else, and that occurred in 1995. In the playdowns for the Junior A Canadian Championship, The Centennial Cup, the team faced seven ‘must win’ situations finally winning over Gloucester, Ontario in an exciting final game. Don credits his very understanding and supportive wife Rita, Calgary Canucks Junior A President Ken Bracko along with the players, for making his coaching duties rewarding.
The Calgary Booster Club is pleased to validate your 26 years of dedicated volunteer coaching by naming Donald George Phelps the 1998 Sportsperson of the Year.