Demeester hits 8,000 game milestone

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Roger Demeester has hung the photo of a smiling child within the Langton and Area Minor Hockey Association minor hockey room, finger raised, with the title ‘winner’ and the caption ‘I’m not a great hockey player, but I’m a good kid.’

If that’s all we can accomplish, it’s still worth coming,” said the iconic LAMHA executive member. “That’s sort of a broad general picture of how I feel.”


Jeff Tribe / For The Tillsonburg News


Demeester has found it worth coming to the Langton arena since inception of the LAMHA in 1971, when he acted as referee in chief, and due to demand, also helped out in the scorekeeper’s booth.

We needed the people to do it, so I volunteered,” he explained. “And just stayed interested in it.”

The latter is an understatement for a man who celebrated his 80th birthday Thursday, December 13th, and scorekept his 8,000th minor hockey game four days later on Monday, Dec. 17. For the record, No. 8,000 was a 5-4 victory for the Langton peewee local league squad over visiting Six Nations, with a 7:30 p.m. opening faceoff.


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They didn’t to it for me,” laughed Demeester, who would have been equally appreciative of the young players’ effort, regardless of outcome.

Similarly, hitting milestones was never the goal for Demeester, an inveterate record keeper and former tobacco farmer, who documented weather patterns from year to year.

I’ve still got rain records back to 1965,” he explained. “It was never a set goal I wanted to accomplish, it was just a matter of ‘Let’s see how many games there are.’”

Demeester’s voice has been made familiar by faithfully fostering an endearing Langton tradition of announcing home and visiting team goals over the PA system.

We just started because the kids liked it,” he explained. “And they still do, especially the little kids.

The older ones don’t care so much… maybe.”

Demeester’s son Dan has been a member of LAMHA for 25 years, granddaughters Renee and Samantha Vansevenant played with the BAD (Belmont Aylmer Dorchester) girls hockey program, his other granddaughter Karlee (Demeester) was a synchronized swimmer and grandson Kyle played in Langton, before graduating university in Huntsville, Alabama, where he still lives.

And plays hockey once a week.”

Beyond enjoying his own descendants’ exploits, having a front-row seat for 8,000 minor hockey games has allowed Roger to form more than a general opinion on the sport’s state.

There’s a lot of emphasis on winning, and that’s normal,” he said. “But maybe sometimes the kids should learn just because someone beats you at a hockey game, it doesn’t mean you are no good, it just means they were better today, and I guess that’s what happens in life, right?”


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Demeester has seen a lot of Langton victories in his life, mirrored by the banners hanging from the arena’s distinctive rafters. But his most lasting memories will come from simply watching kids play, and the efforts they put out.

There are kids who are good players and not so good players, but there are kids who give 100 per cent no matter their ability. That makes it worthwhile, you also see some really sportsmanlike things kids do.

It’s a good lesson for life I guess you’d say.”

He recalled an on-ice collision witnessed a couple of months previous, during which one player lost his gloves and hockey stick. With the flow of the game continuing around and then beyond them, the other player involved retrieved his fallen opponents’ equipment and then helped him to his skates.

And the hockey game continues,” said Demeester. “But for those two kids, it wasn’t just hockey.”

Incidents like that keep him coming back to the arena, full of anticipation.

I like to be busy at something,” he said of an enduring ‘hobby.’ “I’ve probably got more time than anybody, so I spend mine here.”

Langton minor hockey made a ‘big fuss’ of his 5,000th game, but Demeester has been happy enough to let subsequent milestones pass comparatively quietly, and was keeping mum as 8,000 approached, despite the fact fellow scorekeeper Lynn DeCoene was ‘nosing around.’

But then minor hockey spread the whole thing all over heck,” he exclaimed, a hint of pleasure creeping through expressed disgust.

And while Demeester has no ultimate target, there is also no reason to assume he won’t be adding to his enviable and potentially unprecedented total.

There is no goal, it’s just curiosity for myself,” he reiterated in conclusion. “But I’m still in good health, have lots of time, and love working with the kids.”

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