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Long-time Sault hockey coach, volunteer honoured

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A long-time volunteer, coach and trainer in Sault Ste. Marie is being honoured.

A long-time volunteer, coach and trainer Joe Longo is being honoured by the Ontario Hockey Federation. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontairo)Joe Longo has been helping minor hockey teams in the Sault for more than 40 years – in fact, most of Longo's life has been spent at the rink, sharing his love of hockey with the next generation.

He's been a coach, trainer, or assistant with the Soo Pee Wee Hockey League for 44 years, recently earning the Ontario Hockey Federation's ‘Sam Ciccolini Volunteer of the Year’ award.

Longo told CTV News that the reason he continues to give back is actually quite simple.

"The kids make you laugh,” he said.

“They're hilarious, they're the best."

Now retired, instead of relaxing, he spends his time coaching a U13 squad and a U5 team that his grandson is on.

Ryan Longo and Logan Longo, Joe’s son and grandson, said how much Logan likes “papa” coaching him.

“He hits the puck with me – (it’s) fun.”

Joe began his coaching career when he was still in high school with a youth lacrosse team. Over the years he has lent his time to a number of sports, with kids of all ages.

"Now we're back with the 4-year-olds, and the kids we've coached, or coached against have their little kids here now,” said Joe.

“That's the fun part, that's the highlight for me."

Joe Longo now coaches coaching a U13 squad and a U5 team that his grandson is on in the Soo Pee Wee Hockey League. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Ryan told CTV News that his dad, a four-time cancer survivor, is a popular guy at every local rink and loves to help out in any way possible.

"I can't go anywhere without somebody telling me that my dad has coached them in baseball, or hockey, or had some sort of affiliation of coaching with him," he said.

Joe did not have much to say about his recent accolades and wards – but those he shares a bench with said they believe it is well deserved.

"His leadership, his mentorship, the way he communicates with the kids is second to none,” said Chad Bouchard, who has coached with Joe for nine years.

“It’s something I've learned a lot from."

Joe’s brother Gerri has coached with him for 14 years now and said his brother is very inspiring.

“You see how much he loves it and how much he loves the kids,” he said.

“When you talk hockey he's got a twinkle in his eye."

Joe told CTV News that he still has fun coaching.

"I love motivating the kids. Bonding is a big one,” he said.

“Once you're bonded they listen, they have fun, you have fun."

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