Ralph Pocock was born in Lyn,
Ontario in 1909. In 1912 he moved to Wetaskiwin with his parents
and lived there until moving to Duhamel in 1918 and later to Fort
In 1937, Ralph returned to
Wetaskiwin to work, however, in 1941 he enlisted in the RCAF and was
posted to Prince Rupert. During his years in Fort Saskatchewan and
Wetaskiwin he was very active in sports particularly hockey and
baseball. Upon his discharge from the armed forces in 1945, Ralph
and his family returned to Wetaskiwin.
In 1947 the Wetaskiwin Board of
Trade established three committees to deal with setting up hockey
leagues for older boys in Wetaskiwin. Up until that time, minor hockey
in Wetaskiwin consisted of four teams playing house league as well as
Midget and Juvenile teams that were organized and coached by teachers
and played in school leagues. Ralph Pocock was named chairman of the
Junior Sports Committee, which in 1947-48 set out to organize a boys’
minor hockey program in Wetaskiwin. Ralph Pocock became the driving
force and local Leagues and All Star teams were organized for Bantam,
Midget and Juvenile aged players following the Alberta Hockey
Association regulations. That year Ralph managed the school based
Juvenile team and also organized a very successful Father-Son year-end
banquet where teams were recognized and awards given out.
Participation in Wetaskiwin hockey
almost quadrupled from 1947-1950
In 1948-49 the leagues developed
further, adding Peewee Leagues for boys under 12 with the All Star
Bantam Team being coached and managed by Ralph Pocock. In 1949-50, the
Wetaskiwin Amateur Athletic Association was formed to free the Board of
Trade from sports. Ralph Pocock and Al Arner were the hockey
representatives to this Association. That year an intermediate team was
organized, adopted the “Colonels” team name and played in the Central
Alberta Hockey League. Ralph Pocock was elected their Club President.
All-Star teams at all levels that year were also called “Colonels”.
From 1947-1950, because of the formation of the different leagues, boy’s
hockey participation in Wetaskiwin almost quadrupled.
Ralph’s life during those years was
consumed with hockey. He and the others involved were engaged in all
the details of running the leagues including: registration, schedules,
transportation, selecting All-Star Teams, recording the results and
statistics, creating the news releases, obtaining sponsors, uniforms,
coaches and managers. Ralph’s place of work was the administrative
centre of the whole operation.
Wetaskiwin’s successful minor hockey
organization was studied and copied by those in adjacent towns. The
system organized in those three years continues to this day, a credit to
the efforts of Ralph Pocock and others.
In 1950, Ralph was elected City of
Wetaskiwin Alderman and he served on the Recreation Commission. During
that time the Tennis Courts and the Curling Rink were built and Ralph
physically assisted in these projects working with “hammer and saw”.
In 1958 Ralph managed the Wetaskiwin Juveniles however, that year there
was a major setback for all ice programs in Wetaskiwin, as the arena was
declared structurally unsafe. It took until 1962 for a new arena to be
approved, constructed and opened. The work done by Ralph and the
others involved in the early years became the basis for the Minor Hockey
Organization that was revived after the Civic Centre opened.
1962-63 the Wetaskiwin Colonels re-organized to play in the NCAIHL with
Ralph as the manager. The following year he was the Club President and
after that, until the demise of the Colonels in 1978, he volunteered as
needed. Ralph served as the Coordinator of Peewee Hockey from 1972-1976
and coached one of the teams. Ralph was also involved in Fastball and
was manager of the 1975 Tire Town Peewee Provincial Champions.
Ralph also worked tirelessly behind the scenes. He made contacts with
scouts for the Junior A teams in Western Canada, which resulted in a few
Wetaskiwin players being invited to hockey schools and try-out camps.
made sure that no young player was left out due to a lack of finances to
purchase skates and equipment. He solicited money from businesses and
often contributed financial support himself. As well, he and his wife
Jean often drove players to out-of-town games.
Many players from Wetaskiwin have played in the NHL, at the Canadian
University level, at US schools on scholarships, and in the Western
Junior Hockey League. Their successes might not have been possible
without the Wetaskiwin Minor Hockey Association, which owes its
existence to the efforts of Ralph Pocock.