“I could never have taught him to skate or to do these things. Some other volunteer helped him. I can do certain things. I can’t go on the ice, but I can manage trips, manage camps and certain things."
It happened innocently enough.
Larry Reid took his 7-year-old son Jeffrey to sign up for a local youth hockey team in Rhode Island. Except he didn’t know any of the skills or nuances needed to help his son become a better player.
“I don’t know how to skate,” Reid said, looking back. “I don’t play the game. My son wanted to play. I said, ‘Gee, all these volunteers are helping my son, maybe there is something I can do.’ So I volunteered.”
He offered his assistance with tasks like running the scoreboard and helping to organize tournaments and other events within the local organization, thinking it would just be something he would do as his son played a few years of youth hockey.
That was almost 50 years ago.
Today, Reid — an 80-year-old who splits his time between Rhode Island and Florida — and his selflessness are known far and wide throughout the ranks of USA Hockey, as well as international circles.
Reid, who slowly took on roles with USA Hockey’s New England chapter, enjoyed volunteering so much, that he kept helping even after his son stopped playing. Then came the call that would really change his path. Following the death of Frank Black, a key figure for USA Hockey’s preparation for the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival in Houston, Reid was asked to lend his talents and help fill the void.
From there, Reid — who worked for an insurance agency — gradually took on more volunteer responsibility. Among the roles he eventually held was managing director of the New England region, a member of the USA Hockey’s Youth Council, team leader for the men’s, women’s and sled hockey national teams for international competitions and lastly serving as USA Hockey’s vice president and marketing council chair for 18 years, a position he retired from just more than a year ago.
“Larry is one of the most dedicated and caring people I’ve come across in my life,” said Mike Bertsch, who regularly worked with Reid during his 14 years as USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of marketing, communication and events. “Many people maybe aren’t aware that the Board members of USA Hockey are all volunteers who give their time.
"Larry has always been all about others, never about himself. He’s as fine of a person as you could ever hope to work with.”
While Reid has enjoyed all the roles he’s had, it was in the position of team leader — “You make sure everything happens that is supposed to happen. From planes to trains to discipline,” he said — that formed some of his best memories.
With the women’s national team, he helped with the logistics for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the second edition of the Games to feature women’s hockey on the Olympic program.
Of course, Reid credited the scores of people he met and worked with along the way.
“The greatest opportunity and the most memorable things I had were the people at USA Hockey, who were more than wonderful,” he said. “Those are memories and friendships I will have for the rest of my life.”
And it all started out by just wanting to provide help as his son played youth hockey. Just to show what impact the game had on his son, all you need to do is look at the scene on Jeffrey’s wedding day. During the reception, Reid was looking for his son to take more pictures. Jeffrey and a childhood friend were holding court in the bar.
“They were talking about this hockey game and how it went five overtimes,” Reid said. “Everybody’s there like it was the gold-medal game at the Olympics or an NCAA final. It was a squirt house-league game. He enjoyed it, he had a good time and it left him with great memories and that makes me feel good and why I wanted to pay back.
“I could never have taught him to skate or to do these things. Some other volunteer helped him. I can do certain things. I can’t go on the ice, but I can manage trips, manage camps and certain things. You give back when you can.”