John Charest was born and raised in Edmundston, New Brunswick where he played ball in the summer and his “most loved” game of hockey in the winter. His first games of hockey were played on outdoor rinks and his hero is Rocket Richard. After graduating from high school, John enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force. During postings in Canada, Germany, and the United States John enjoyed and excelled in softball and hockey, as well as taking up bowling and golf. He also found time to coach minor hockey and ball. John’s contribution to the Berwick sporting community began when he retired from the RCAF in 1974 and he and his wife Brenda moved to Berwick. His dedication to our town has been tireless and continuing.
From the mid 1970’s until the mid 80’s, John coached Minor Hockey from the Pee Wee to Juvenile age groups and in 1980 his juvenile team won the Valley/South Shore Championship and played in the Provincial Tournament in Clare. In 1981 his team hosted the Juvenile “A” Tournament. During his years coaching, he mentored several young assistant coaches as they began their careers as volunteer coaches in Berwick.
John coached the Berwick Eassons Fast Pitch Team in 1976. He became a Registered Softball Canada Umpire in 1987 and has officiated throughout the Valley, especially enjoying children’s tournaments and charitable events. He is still active as an umpire, proud to be the most senior in age officiating in the province. John has been supportive and encouraging to local youth seeking their own certification as umpires.
Approximately fifteen years ago, John assumed the leading roll in organizing the Berwick 50 years-and-older hockey program, known as Shinny Hockey. The program attracts players from Digby to Wolfville, but players also come from as far as Halifax. They come to play in Berwick two afternoons a week to enjoy the health benefits and camaraderie of Shinny Hockey. John continues to organize and keep the program running, promoting fairness, fun, and sportsmanship while enjoying playing the game himself.
When Nova Scotia held the first Senior Games Hockey Tournament, the honour of being invited to coach the combined Berwick/Kentville/Kingston team was bestowed on John and he coached them to a Gold Medal win.
John has also served on the Berwick Recreation Committee. John’s other sporting interests are golf, in which he has had two holes in one, and pool, in which he has won the Aubrey Drew & Tinker Burgess Memorial Championships. He has said that his “greatest personal reward has come from coaching Minor Hockey, watching the youth he coached grow into fine adults in the community.”
John has served our community as coach, mentor, organizer/founder, committee member, official, player, and fundraiser.
It is with pride that John Charest is recognized by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.
Inducted June 2008