Springwater Sports Heritage

Founding Benefactor: The McGuire Trust

Ross McConnell Narrative

As written in The Midland Hall of Fame Website….
While Ross McConnell is best known as the coach of the 1984-85 Stoneleigh Centennials Junior C hockey team that made it to the Ontario finals, that season was but one pinnacle in a life devoted to sports in Midland and the surrounding area.
McConnell's lifelong participation in hockey began in Elmvale where he moved through the ranks from referee to referee-in-chief, tournament chairman and, eventually, president of the Minor Hockey Association. Throughout these years in Elmvale Minor Hockey, he also coached at all levels. One of his greatest accomplishments as a coach was when his Pee-Wee team won the North American International Silver Stick Championship in 1977. He also served as a coach and on the executive of the Elmvale Minor Softball Association.
But it was his hockey expertise that earned him a chance to be the head coach of the Midland Centennials, a team that hadn't yet reached its potential…He moved on to coach the Orillia Travelways Junior B team for a year before returning to Midland's Jr. C team from 1988-1992. After a few years of coaching minor hockey in Midland, he was asked to coach the Penetang Kings Junior C team, which he did from 1997-2000. He then once again turned his attention and talent to the Midland Minor Hockey Association as a coach and also serving on the executive and as president.
McConnell also joined the executive of the Midland Silver Stick Committee and has served as its tournament director since 2000.

Ross was also Inducted into Midland Sports Hall of Fame as part of the- Stoneleigh Centennials Jr. C. Hockey (1984-1985) Team  (Portions of the following excerpt was taken from that site)

When a local newspaper named the sports team of the year for 1984-85, it said the choice was "pretty obvious."
"The best team, that achieved the most prestige and carried the name of Midland to the furthest regions, was the Midland Stoneleigh Centennials...We salute Mike Stone, the owner of the Cents, for his diligence and interest which spread Midland throughout the Ontario hockey map, and coach Ross McConnell for guiding the Cents to the Finals."
It was by no means a foregone conclusion at the start of the season, however. Entering their seventh season, the Junior C squad had never won much, and they were being guided by McConnell, who had moved to the team a couple of years previously after serving as president of the Elmvale Minor Hockey Association.
At 27, McConnell worked with former team owner Tom Garner, who was now the General Manager, to find the right personnel and that they did heading into the 1984- 85 season. ………
The Centennials' dream to win the Ontario champion-ship fell short in a five-game series against Belle River, but it had truly been a Hall of Fame season.

 What others said….. As taken from the Midland Hall of Fame website
Only 25, McConnell wasn't much older than some of his players. In 1985, a local newspaper said, "When Ross McConnell was asked to be the coach three years ago, more than a few people thought he was in over his head."
Almost immediately, McConnell proved those doubters wrong as the Cents finished fourth in the league in his first year at the helm, second the next year, and then swept through the playoffs on their way to the provincial finals in his third year.
 According to Ross…
"The greatest thing for me was all the people I met and dealt with through the years," ….. "We might not have won a lot of championships through the years, but to see the accomplishments of the kids, to see them try their best, and be better people for it, that was the biggest pleasure of all."