In the realm of the Alberta U18 (formerly Midget) AAA Hockey League, there's one name that stands out: Bobby O.
Bob Olynyk, a beloved figure in Alberta's hockey community, began his volunteer journey at the rinks in 1966 and hasn't looked back since. Affectionately known as simply Bobby O, he has immersed himself in every facet of the hockey world. From maintaining the ice surface and serving as a junior team trainer to handling statistics for the Oilers and Oil Kings and even coaching, he's done it all.
However, Bobby O is most recognized for his influential leadership within the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League (AMHL), now part of the U18 AAA division in the Alberta Elite Hockey League (AEHL). He began coaching in 1977 at the Major Bantam level, securing five consecutive City Championships. In the mid-1980s, he transitioned to an executive role within the AMHL and served as president or vice-president from 1987 until 2020. He currently holds the position of inaugural governor for the AEHL's U18 AAA division. His commitment to the U18 AAA Alberta Elite Hockey League is unwavering.
Throughout his journey, Bobby O has also collaborated with Hockey Canada to organize exhibition games between league teams and the Canadian Women's National Team in preparation for the Olympics and World Championships. Additionally, he tirelessly contributed to the AEHL's scholarship fund, providing scholarships to one player from each team in the U18 AAA division.
Bobby O takes immense pride in his scholarship program and the annual golf tournament he initiated. The tournament raises $25,000-$30,000 annually and has accumulated nearly $1 million in support of graduating players in the league. Scholarship recipients can utilize the funds for any form of post-secondary education. He also chairs and drives the scholarship program for the Edmonton U15 AA Invitational Tournament of Champions.
Bobby O has received well-deserved recognition for his decades of service. The Maple Leaf Athletic Club and Hockey Edmonton have honored him with Life Member status, while Hockey Alberta presented him with the Hockey Alberta Centennial Award in 2007 and the Hockey Alberta President's Award in 2011, acknowledging his exceptional contributions to hockey in Alberta.
Congratulations on your induction into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame, Bobby O!