From D.C. to SC: John Crerar continues to expand USA Hockey
By Katie Harp

John Crerar, USA Hockey Director Emeritus, started the Southeastern District of USA Hockey over 30 years ago as a way for his son to have a chance to play the sport he grew up loving.

"Hockey is a lot of fun. It is a way of getting out of the day-to-day rat race. Some guys play golf. I got involved with ice hockey," Crerar said.

A Rhode Island native, Crerar played hockey through high school.

"I grew up in Rhode Island, which is hockey heaven. In high school, the team I played on was one of the strongest teams in the area," Crerar said.

Crerar became involved with USA Hockey in 1958, becoming a director in 1969.

Crerar and his family were living in Washington D.C. when Crerar formed the Capital Boys Hockey Club, the first team of what would eventually become the Southeastern District.

"I did a lot of lobbying for USA Hockey on the hill. At that time, USA Hockey wasn’t involved in the South," Crerar said.

The Capital Boys has now transformed into the Capital Beltway Hockey League. It has produced several players throughout the years that have gone on to play the sport at higher levels. One of the most notables is Jeff Halpern, center for the NHL Washington Capitals.

Several politicians’ children have also been involved in the Capital Beltway, including the children of current Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Senator Bobby Kennedy.

Another senator, Ted Stevens, got Crerar to serve on the 1976 Olympic Commission. Crerar was on the committee that oversaw ice hockey.

Crerar was also present on the tour of the White House with the 1980 USA Hockey team after they captured the gold medal at the Olympics.

Over the last 30 years, Crerar has watched hockey interest grow in the South.

"When we started the program in Washington, we had 16 kids," Crerar said. "Now the program has somewhere between 23,000 and 24,000 kids in 11 states. It’s big in Florida, Carolina and Atlanta."

However, the intensity of hockey in the South is nowhere near the intensity of hockey in the Northeast according to Crerar.

"Once you get out of the D.C. area, the kids don’t have the hunger that the kids in the Northeast do," Crerar said. "They are at the rink seven days a week. Kids in the South go and do other things, but it is coming down here."

 

For Crerar, one of the most rewarding things is getting the chance to watch kids develop as they move through the local leagues.

"Some of them develop, and some of them don’t," Crerar said.

Washington Chiefs

Besides his involvement with USA Hockey, Crerar has also been involved with the Washington Capitals organization for 32 years. He held the position of Director of Minor Hockey Operations.

While doing this he became involved with the Washington Chiefs of the Eastern Hockey League (now East Coast Hockey League).

"The Chiefs were a senior open team that played to a paid gate," Crerar said. "The Chiefs had an independent schedule playing teams from Canada, New Jersey and Michigan.

The team was composed of various people including various military personnel that were in town and professional players that had retired. Dick Patrick, President of the Washington Capitals, is a former Washington Chief.

"It was the only game in town for years," Crerar said.

Family Affair

Several members of the Crerar family are also involved with the sport. Crerar’s son, Duncan, played for the Washington Chiefs. He now coaches.

Crerar’s grandson, Andrew is also active in the Ashford program in Fairfax, Va.

Crerar’s wife, Alice, is a figure skater. However, they did not meet at a rink.

Their relationship to the ice has led to an unique blend in their marital life.

"I would come in the back door from hockey and she would go out the front door to go ice skating," Crerar said.

Crerar and his wife have since moved from the D.C. area. They now reside in Aiken, S.C.

Crerar is currently President of the Augusta Ice Sports Center, the rink he purchased in Augusta, Ga.

"I retired from my regular job, got bored and bought an ice rink," Crerar said. "It is a lot slower pace, but we do have some kids who are developing."

The Augusta Ice Sports Center is the practice rink of the ECHL Augusta Lynx. The rink offers both hockey and figure skating figure skating classes at a variety of levels and ages.

 





 
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