Bill Weber remembered with weekend activities

11 years ago

How do you know if you don’t like something unless you try it?
That was the philosophy of the late William “Bill” Weber on most everything, including hockey.
Weber, who was an intricate part of the hockey program in Houlton, as a coach, player and fan is being honored with the first-ever “Bill Weber Welcome Back” weekend at the Millar Civic Center from Friday through Sunday.

The event is sponsored by the Southern Aroostook Minor Hockey Association.
“Our father spent many years involved with the Houlton Hockey Association, which is now known as SAMHA, coaching and whatever else needed to be done to help the organization,” said Weber’s daughter Jessica. “Our father felt very passionate about equal play at a young age and incorporating everyone that showed up into the game. He brought enthusiasm with him to every game.”
Chris remembers his father’s “unique” coaching tactics.
“One year when he was my coach, at the Bantam level, our team was down by a goal with a minute and a half left,” recalled Chris. “Pretty much everyone on our team wanted our first line out on the ice to try to give us a shot at tying the game. But it was the third line’s turn and Dad wasn’t about to skip any one’s turn. We lost the game, but that was the last thing Dad worried about. He always made sure, no matter your talent, no matter the score or time left on the clock, everyone would get equal playing time.”
Another memory recalled helping his players to get “awake” for an early morning game in Nackawic, which is about an hour from Houlton.
“Dad knew our team probably wouldn’t be 100 percent awake,” said Chris. “When our team pulled in the arena parking lot, before we could take our bags into the arena, Dad had our team running wind sprints and doing jumping jacks in the parking lot.”
Jessica played a year of hockey to see if she “liked it,” while “my brother played throughout his youth” and then four years on the cooperative high school hockey team Houlton-Hodgdon Black Hawks.
Weber was a huge hockey fan.
“Dad was an avid hockey fan of all levels and that spread throughout our household,” said Chris. “To this day, my mother still knows when and what channel the Maine Black Bears and the New York Rangers are playing on.”
There were times when it wasn’t uncommon for Weber to just stop at the arena and watch a game.
“He loved traveling to the Alfond to watch the Maine Black Bears,” said Jessica. “Throughout his adulthood, he participated in Men’s League. We spent many summers traveling south to Biddeford so that he, Bink, Trevor, Wilson, the Trickeys and the rest of the boys could play in the “Old Boars” tournament.”
This Friday, the first-ever “Bill Weber Welcome Back Weekend” will kick off at the Millar Civic Center with free skating from 7-9 p.m.
During the evening, there will be games, goodie bags, music and judging of Halloween costumes. Organizers do encourage all costumes to be safe to skate with and no masks.
On Saturday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. is the “Try Hockey For Free” activity, which is open for anyone who has not played hockey to give the sport a try.
During Saturday afternoon, the Palmer Construction Bantams will host the Portland Pirates in a Bantam game and after that, from 2-4 p.m. is another session of free skating.
Andy Mooers will be announcing the game, while Bill Weber’s grandson, Eli will drop the ceremonial puck.
The “Bill Weber Welcome Back Weekend” ends on Sunday with more free skating from 2-4 p.m.
Events are sponsored by the Millar Civic Center and the Southern Aroostook Minor Hockey Association (SAMHA).
“What we want people to remember from Dad is that at the youth level, you can’t turn the kids away from playing the sport they love,” explained Chris. “And if you don’t give each kid an equal and fair chance and play your best players far more than the less talented, that is just what you will do. It was never about winning for Dad. It was about seeing kids smile, enjoying the game of hockey that he truly loved.”