“Mom. Mom,” Trevor Heaton said after he took the hand-held microphone from Klamath Falls Ice Hawks coach Kevin Welch.
“Wendy,” he said.
One of the seven seniors being feted at the final home game of the Ice Hawks season, Trevor Heaton escorted his mother out on the ice and led an encore “thank you” from the players.
It was a well-deserved special recognition for the volunteer coordinator of the Ice Hawks hockey programs. She organizes schedules, coaches and works with programs from out of town for regular season and various tournament play, along with other duties.
“Wendy has done selfless volunteer hours to get the program up and going to the level it is today,” said Linda Tesman, whose son Ian was another senior playing his final game at the Bill Collier Community Ice Arena.
“She means everything to the program,” said Tammy Ahalt, whose son Leo, is another Ice Hawks senior. “Without her, we wouldn’t have the hockey, nor the depth of programs. The program has grown exponentially since COVID.”
Before COVID-19, the Ice Hawks often struggled to field three teams.
When the pandemic hit, hockey was a game that could continue because the ice arena is outdoors, albeit covered, and with mandatory restrictions followed, the Ice Hawks program has grown to almost every age group available.
There have been “Play Hockey for Free” and a secondary skating program to help develop players.
“She’s the backbone of the program, and it’s hard to explain,” Ahalt said.
It is her passion, Wendy Heaton’s husband, Kevin, said.
“She’s kind of like a pit bull, but don’t say that,” Kevin Heaton said. “When she gets a hold of something, she takes it all the way. She goes the extra mile. (Ice hockey) is something she and her kids love and have grown with.”
Tyler Heaton was a four-year player before the pandemic. Jordon Heaton played for a couple of seasons. Trevor Heaton just completed his fourth season with the Ice Hawks, who this weekend are in Eugene for the state championships.
Doing something with Ice Hawks teams is a part of Wendy Heaton’s daily life. It includes many nights. She works coordinating teams throughout the year.
“It’s a 12-month proposition,” Kevin Heaton said.
“She has gotten an amazing crew of coaches. She’s a vital component of the program,” Tesman said.
Even after the final game, when players, parents and others were gathering for a meal, Wendy Heaton was chasing down little things which needed to be completed before she, finally, could eat.
“It’s almost like a tradition (to have her involved with the Ice Hawks, and she serves as the official scorekeeper at home games),” Trevor Heaton said. “I don’t know if there was a year when I played when she wasn’t doing it.”
Her youngest child said there has been plenty to learn from watching his mother at work.
“She has showed me a good lesson toward doing something, and there are a lot of little things and it takes a lot of time to do things done well,” Trevor Heaton said. “There are a lot of organizational skills.”
The expectation is that Wendy Heaton will continue on, at least for a couple of years.
The concern is who will be there take over her duties when she decides to hang up her skates, so to speak, in a program in which she has taken the Ice Hawks further along the road to success from people like Suzette Machedo, Gerard and Greg Collins, and Charlie Erdman.
Even this year’s senior parents wonder.
Steve Matthies is Herald and News sports editor emeritus. He has covered Klamath Basin sports for more than 30 years.