Inaugural Old Sod Award goes to a pretty good head

Players in the Conception Bay South Rec Hockey League made a special award following the last game of the season last month – the first of what will be a perpetual award in memory of a long-time player who died five years ago, but who left a remaining legacy of sportsmanship and camaraderie.

The Steve O’Driscoll Friendly Player Award, “or what will be forever known as the Old Sod Award,” said league executive member and veteran goalie Dale Bickford, will go every year to a player exemplifying the same kind of gentlemanly conduct and sportsmanship as the man for whom the award is named.

“Steve was a very active participant in sports in CBS and Paradise, both as a hockey and soccer player and a coach of minor hockey, soccer and softball,” said Bickford. “Known by many and a good friend to many, this award will be presented every year at the last game of the season. It will honor Steve and recognize a player in the league who always keeps their composure and is always friendly…. like Steve was. Sometimes in the heat of competition it may be hard, but rec hockey is meant to be friendly and fun. So this trophy will recognize the guys who always keep their cool and who are always friendly just like Steve was.

The inaugural winner of the award was Joe Devereaux, who was a teammate of O’Driscoll.

“Joe just turned 70 and has decided to hang them up from the over-45 hockey league,” said Bickford. “Joe is a very nice guy and a friend to many and was also a good friend to Steve. Joe is still very active in the sports community today as a hockey player, softball umpire and basketball referee.”

Devereaux couldn’t make the last game of the season because his flight was delayed when he was returning from a vacation. So Steve’s wife, Donna O’Driscoll, presented the trophy to Deveraux’s teammate Frank Hender on Devereaux’s behalf. Bickford later presented the trophy to Devereaux after he returned home.

The Trophy itself was conceived and designed by Derek Peddle of Vivid Communications, who was also a friend of O’Driscoll, Bickford noted. “The wooden part of the trophy was made by the company O’Driscoll founded, Precision Industries, who are well renown for custom staircases,” Bickford added.

“Steve O’Driscoll was a very good friend to many guys in this league,” said Bickford in a short address to the players on the ice. “Whether it was a rec hockey tournament somewhere, a hunting or skidoo trip, a game of golf or jigging cod, all you had to do was mention it and Steve was there in a heartbeat. Not much ever phased on him and he always had a positive and friendly attitude.”

The father of two died at the age of 54 as the result of a vehicle accident on the Salmonier Line.

This year, the league felt it would be fitting to select the winner of the first Old Sod Award from a member of O’Driscoll’s team. A process has been determined to choose winners in future years with each team coming up with a nominee from their squad. “This can be done by a blind vote or by just openly nominating people in the dressing room and voting by a show of hands,” said Bickford. “Each team’s player rep will be responsible for getting this part done. On the night of the award, the four entries, one from each team, will be placed in a hat and a name drawn to receive the award. At the end of each season, every team will submit the name of a nominee from their squad and all the players in the league will vote to choose the winner.” The only stipulation is that a player can only win the award once.

As for the name Sod, or SOD, it stands for the initials of Steve O’Driscoll.

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