MCOA HOCKEY HISTORY
Helping those in need since 2007!
The grass roots history of the DNR Law Enforcement Divisions MCOA hockey team started in the mid 1980’s. At that time all DNR divisions would get together for an annual U.P. L.P. battle of the bridge game at different locations throughout the state. The Mackinaw Bridge would be the dividing line for the two teams and All DNR divisions would play side by side. Only three Actual Conservation Officers were active skaters in that annual game. Mike Bailey Dave Shaw and John Cischke (who were avid hockey players and played in hometown men’s leagues) Dave Shaw and Mike Bailey talked about one day having an all DNR Law team in the mix of things but just didn’t have the skaters .
As time went on there came a point that new young blood was hired on in DNR Law Enforcement Division that could skate! Mike Bailey, the team’s founder, realized they could come close to forming an all LAW Division team with the employees on hand in 2005.
Bailey wanted the team to be Pure L.E.D. from top to bottom and in appearance out class anyone that stepped on the ice to play them. The main purpose however was to HELP AND ENCOURAGE THOSE IN NEED! The focus would be on helping families of Conservation Officers, families and employees of other Police, Fire, EMT, and Military personnel and other community needs as presented. By doing so the Michigan Conservation Officer would be placed out there in a new public relations form and make people aware of the Job and its dedicated personnel. This would be a positive showing to the general public and promote the Conservation Officer and gain support for all facets of the job.
THE NEW M.C.O.A. AND A REQUEST FOR SPONSORSHIP:
The M.C.O.A. membership at this time had just elected a fine staff of leaders in 2005 and things started to gel like never before in M.C.O.A. Positive things were getting done and done rapidly. An exciting future outlook for M.C.O.A. was in the making. The time was right to make a presentation to M.C.O.A. and ask them to sponsor a hockey team with their name on it. To make the sell, Bailey wanted to make it free to M.C.O.A. and just get permission for using their name. The support from then M.C.O.A. President Mike Borkovich and followed by equally supportive President Jeremy Payne during that time frame made the difference. These men saw the vision and gave all they could to help along with all the officers on the board they presided over.
FORMING THE TEAM:
After presenting the Idea to the M.C.O.A. Board at a St Ignace meeting in summer of 2005 Bailey was given the ok by M.C.O.A. in fall of 2005 to run a state wide DNR Law Enforcement Division survey to see if we had enough interested Officers that would be willing to skate on the team. He needed 3 full hockey lines and 3 sets of defense and at least two goalies. We had the personnel but not all of them wanted to skate. It was discouraging however as it looked like we would be close, but again, short on skaters. While talking with all the Officers that wanted to skate Dave Shaw realized that several Officers had kids in hockey over 18 years old and recommended we use them. Acting on Dave Shaw’s suggestion, Bailey re contacted M.C.O.A. leadership and was given the blessing to have C.O’s and their immediate family members to represent M.C.O.A. on the team. Bailey made an additional request to use any Law enforcement Goalie if needed as they were hard to find and was given the ok! The numbers were there and things were set now to make a final Presentation to M.C.O.A. and get official permission to form the team. Bailey was scheduled on the Agenda at the M.C.O.A. business meeting at Cabalas in Dundee, Michigan on April 17th 2006. With much excitement on paper that day, the M.C.O.A. hockey team was born!!!
The goal here was to have the uniforms properly and authentically represent the D.N.R. Law Enforcement Division. No advertisements or sponsor names on the jersey to cheapen the appearance of the uniform. In addition the uniform was going to be a tribute and a memorial to the ten fallen Michigan Conservation Officers and it had to be classy!
FINDING THE RIGHT VENDOR FOR THE UNIQUE REQUEST
While at a Michigan hockey game Bailey noticed the unique and classy appearance of the Northern Michigan Wildcats jersey’s of 2004. The stripe lines and placement looked great. He knew the Northern Michigan equipment manager Bill Kiple who also owned a Hockey equipment store called “HOCKEY CENTRAL” in Marquette. After calling him and stating he wanted N.H.L. quality jerseys from the N.H.L. vendor the Wildcats used and all tackle twill tight weave patches to place on the jersey in both home and away (white and black) versions. He responded with…. ‘Do you have any idea what that will cost per jersey with custom socks and patches as well? After much discussion he was convinced Bailey was serious and agreed to make the order “IF” the money started coming in.
THE COLORS HAD TO BE EXACT!
To make sure the uniform colors were accurate we had four colors that had to properly match. Actual uniform fabric samples were taken from our Class “A” uniform and sent to the N.H.L. vendor in Quebec, Canada. The green pants including the black stripe, the grey dress shirt and mini version of the proper patrol vehicle door shield. The classy Patrol vehicle door shield that was designed by now Retired Sgt. Mike Borkovich was going to be part of the chest logo
WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THESE? HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO IT
Each player was instructed to rally sponsors that would be listed on an ad banner to hang behind our bench during our games and a program to cough up $150.00 per player per jersey. Each player had to come up with a total of $350 on average for home and away jerseys, socks, Gloves and helmets. Custom M.C.O.A helmet stickers were made for each helmet. The players went to work and did the job funding all equipment and uniforms in 3 months.
SECOND TO NONE
Ask any M.C.O.A. hockey team member about the comments from opposing team players when we take the ice. Sometimes its right before a face off “Man where did you guys get those fine looking uniforms” Given, our win loss record is not the best, but we are undefeated and untied in uniform appearance! That’s just what we wanted in representing our Ten Fallen Officers and our division when on public display. There is a strong Law Enforcement hockey circuit in Michigan from the Michigan State Police teams to County sheriff, City and Township P.D. teams. This circuit includes fire departments from Detroit and Ann Arbor to mention just a few.Finally Michigan Conservation Officers were represented in this circuit and represented with class. All of these Law enforcement teams are ready and willing to help each other in benefit games for specific needs of their families and community and stay in contact annually. It's inevitable This team will be playing games out of state and into Ontario as plans are in the making but how important will the logo’s and the great State of Michigan silhouette be then to onlookers while we represent our Division, Department and even our state? When all was said and done, The N.H.L. vendor in Quebec said the M.C.O.A hockey jersey was more expensive than any N.H.L. Jersey that year with the exception of the Buffalo Sabers who beat us out by one buck! When you look at the Sabers uniforms in 2006 you see why.
THE PATCHES AND LOGO’S DESIGN:
The uniform and the logos were designed exclusively by Mike Bailey with the exception of the memorial tribute patch on the uniform shoulders was joint with Jeremy Payne who did a fine job. (The jersey chest logo was later adopted for all M.C.O.A. stationary as a side note.)
THE CHEST LOGO:
The chest logo had to have the state of Michigan silhouette out front along with our classy door shield logo with initials M.C.O.A. large enough to be seen from the stands. It was set apart from the State silhouette down the Lake Michigan side. The Door Shield designed several years prior by Mike Borkovich and currently used was requested in its entirety but turned down by the Chief at that time and we were told the door shield had to include the wording “association” instead so an alternate was created. And the shield is proudly displayed on the chest.
THE MEMORIAL SHOLDER PATCH WITH 10 STARS:
This patch was designed after re reading the 10 reports of Michigan Conservation Officers that gave their lives for the protection of Michigan’s natural resources and protection of the people of our state. A close look at the patch shows our state silhouette cradled by deer antlers (Jeremy Pane) and the outline of our second Michigan Conservation Officer badge. (Jeremy Pane) Outside this logo an arc of TEN STARS covers the top of the patch. Each star represents a Michigan Conservation Officer that was killed in the line of duty. The star on the left represents the first and the far right the last, in order from left to right.
NAMING THE FIRST COACH, EQUIPMENT MANAGERS AND CAPTAINS:
Mike Bailey heard through the grape vine Sgt. Scott Wilk had played Hockey and Coached teams in the past and after a short Phone interview Wilk accepted the job with all pay and benefits amounting to Zero. Mike Bomay expressed an enthusiasm for the game that would not quit and had enough energy for everyone. He volunteered to help with equipment and help coach. The team needed a full time P. A. announcer for fun but we wanted a deep clear voice. One fall night while on patrol Bailey heard Troy Van Gelderen call into station 20 for a file check and said hey that’s they guy. Deep clear Voice, Great for a P.A. Announcer! Troy took the Job and is now respectfully called “THE VOICE” Bailey appointed the Captain Dave Shaw as he skates as a referee in his home area hockey leagues and knows the game. Alternate captains were appointed by coach Wilk and include Brett Gustafson, Ed Britton, and Mike Bailey.
THE FIRST TIME MEETING AS A TEAM:
The first team meeting was called and for the first time all players were gathered in one spot from all over the state in Sault Ste. Marie. The meeting started in the hotel conference room at the best western in the SOO. The brand new Jerseys were hanging both home and away versions ready for the players to pick them up. Gustafson and Miller braved a white out snow storm after picking them up in Marquette to make the meeting on time. Plans were made for the next day’s practice at LSSU and a team photo. Coach Wilk would get his first look at the team and found out we had some skaters, and yet had some work to do to say the least.
THE FIRST GAME:
M.C.O.A. had the first game in Gaylord in the spring of 2007 vs. the Michigan State Police the first goal was scored 24 seconds into the game as Dave Shaw on a pass from Mike Bailey buried a shot low glove side on the MSP goalie to take an early lead. MSP rallied to tie the game 3-3 with just seconds left but the game was complete with roughing calls and a natural rivalry was created and MCOA hockey had made their early mark and the team was underway.
THE BENEFIT GAMES AND FUNDS RAISED TO HELP THOSE IN NEED:
The success of this team is not the win-loss record although we play to win!!! It’s the needs we meet in times of hardship for others!!! Fundraising to help those in need since 2007 has been spearheaded by Michael Bomay and Scott Wilk and their wives and others to numerous to list. The main fund raisers and involvement can change for each event as an officer becomes personally involved in helping for a cause that is close to them. These are donations or auctions in addition to ticket revenue to help the cause and reason for the event. M.C.O.A. has also contributed to the fundraising and auctions. All have been for Officers and their families that have lost a loved one or some good cause in the community or help with huge medical bills due to a major illness and extended treatment. As of early 2013 M.C.O.A. HOCKEY HAS RAISED OVER $85.000.00 in only 13 benefit Games, Donated 2 hunt of a lifetime trips. One benefit raised $17.000 alone for a child with cancer. and is standing by to help those in need in the future!
(The team has played in non benefit games and Police hockey tournaments as well for the love of hockey that are not mentioned here as they are non benefit games.) At the time this article was written the M.C.O.A. hockey team is the 1st and was the only team of Conservation Officers in the United States.
IT’S YOUR TEAM!!!
Thanks to many who have helped on and off the ice and for all the individual efforts made not expecting a pat on the back but do it for others. Without you it would not be possible! You know who you are!! In 99% of all benefit games our team members pay for all their ice time, travel and hotel rooms making all ticket revenue available for the beneficiary, or help pay for referees. Thanks again for all who made this program a complete success in the past and those who will help in the future! It’s your team!!! Please browse the team’s history and game Photo gallery on the M.C.O.A. Web site. Hope to see you at the next event to support those in need! As of this year 2013 will be Coach Wilk’s last year coaching MCOA. Thanks Scott for a job well done not only in the thousands of organizational phone calls but the coaching and fundraising as well.
Retired, and by the grace of God, still skating!