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When Jodi Bradford gets into his work, either employment or as a volunteer, he’s all-in.

The Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association U18  Tier 2 coach, who is also a manager at Ferraro Foods, has worked or volunteered in both areas for the last 30 years and his efforts in hockey have not gone unnoticed.

Bradford, now 52, is one of five Fred Heslop Minor Hockey Award winners. The award recognizes volunteers who have made significant contributions to BC Hockey, their association and community – people who have enhanced programs, gone beyond expectation and made remarkable achievements.

“That’s my passion, hockey and groceries, I guess,” Bradford said with a laugh. “I’ve done both for the same amount of time.”

Bradford, who first began coaching with his father Danny and was mentored by Rich Chobanuk, estimates to have worked with more than 350 players and 50 different coaches over that time frame. It all started back in 1993 when he and his father coached the then Jr. B Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Bradfords coached the Smoke Eaters in their inaugural season after they moved to the Junior A ranks in 1995. Jodi was also behind the bench with the Rossland Warriors Junior B team and the Senior Warriors squad that won the Coy Cup during the 2006-07 season.

Jodi, himself, has coached from the U7 levels to senior hockey and this past season remained with the U18 team.

“It’s funny, I went through without my son, then with my son and now I’m back without my son, again. I love hockey. I’ve been (playing) it since I was five,” said Bradford, who played through the midget level (now known as U18). “The kids keep me going. Every year we get a different crew and I come back for them. I just love being at the rink.”

He describes himself as a players’ coach, who demands a lot in practice.

“I think the kids respect me and I wouldn’t be back if they didn’t.”

The Heslop award is named after past BC Hockey President and long-time volunteer, Fred Heslop, whose involvement with BC Hockey spanned more than two decades. The Trail, B.C. native served in many capacities on the board and in 2007, BC Hockey, awarded him the highest honour when he was presented with the Diamond Stick Award. Heslop passed away in late 2013, leaving a legacy behind him.

Mario Annicchiarico is a freelance writer based in Victoria who has previously covered the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers, as well as the Western Hockey League.