Tributes are pouring in for former Kootenay International Junior Hockey League president Len Dergousoff.
The longtime Revelstoke Grizzlies board member, who headed up the league from 1999-2002, died in Salmon Arm, where he resided, after a year-long bout with cancer at the age of 80.
“Len made a tremendous impact on the KIJHL during his time leading the league,” says current commissioner Jeff Dubois. “He was instrumental in the addition of franchises in Nelson, Creston and Summerland at a time when the KIJHL only had 11 member clubs, and he had a vision for promoting the league and our high calibre of play that was ahead of its time. He also helped bring the KIJHL into the digital age with the launch of our first website.”
Grizzlies coach-GM Ryan Parent says the Dergousoff family has been entrenched in the hockey community in B.C. for many, many years.
“They have done some very positive things for the KI, and he’s a spearhead of that for sure,” says Parent.
Jacquie Federico remembers watching her father create KIJHL league schedules by hand. Cards would be all over the living room floor.
“He was setting it up, making sure that everybody had it all equal. It was pretty neat how he used to do it,” says Federico.
Dergousoff loved doing work for the league, he loved hockey and Federico described her father as “pretty thick-skinned.”
“He didn’t have issues dealing with complaints and he did what he needed to do. He loved his role,” she says. “He was a strong man that way. He’s the one who basically got the league registered as a society. Drafted up the constitution that is still in place. I remember them hand typing them up and getting it all organized. There was a lot of push back at that time. Some people liked it, some people didn’t. At least you had the rules in place.”
As a volunteer, Dergousoff put in endless hours while also working full-time as a lumber grader at Downie Timber in Revelstoke. Former KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen worked with Dergousoff as a volunteer, serving in the role of vice-president and doing statistics. Ohlhausen says Dergousoff was very good in his role with the league.
“He was focused on the league and he wanted it to go ahead,” says Ohlhausen. “It was a great honour working with him at the time.”
His passion rubbed off on the family.
Federico does marketing for the Grizzlies. Her brother Ken played for the Castlegar Rebels and Trail Smoke Eaters with son-in-law Rick Finlay. And his other son Dwayne played for the Rebels and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Dergousoff’s grandson Louie Federico played for the Grizzlies (2014-16). Dergousoff watched all the home games and often traveled to watch the away games no matter how bad the weather was. He was always proud to wear his “team hat.”
“He loved being part of the game,” she says. “He just always loved hockey.”