Bill Hall grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s in the small town of Potsdam, N.Y., near Ottawa. He was 13 years old when his family got their first TV set, and he spent Saturday nights watching “Hockey Night in Canada.”
That started his love for hockey, and he became driven to help grow the sport in any way he could.”
“I grew up influenced by men and women who instilled in me the sense of volunteerism, which I didn’t realize until much later on,” Hall said.
Hall’s first role as a USA Hockey volunteer dates back to 1978, when he was recruited to be a presenter to run a Level I coaching clinic.
That started a life of volunteering with USA Hockey. Hall retired from his USA Hockey duties in June following more than 30 years as a volunteer on the USA Hockey Board of Directors. He served as the board’s secretary since 2004. Upon his retirement, Hall received a President’s Award for his volunteer service to USA Hockey.
Hall served in various roles and committees within USA Hockey, including the Player Development Committee since 1992. He held leadership positions with the New York State Amateur Hockey Association from 1991-2004, Playing Rules Committee from 2004-22 and Player Development Committee from 2015-22.
He was placed into roles because he’s a “task master,” said Donna Guariglia, USA Hockey’s treasurer for seven years who’s known Hall for more than two decades and worked on a lot of the same committees together.
“You give him a job, start to finish he’ll complete it,” Guariglia said. “He’ll cover all the bases. He’ll make sure that we looked at every single possible scenario.”
Guariglia was always impressed with how much Hall cared about his USA Hockey roles and how he made players his No. 1 priority in any decision.
Hall said he’s proud of chairing the discussion and rules put forth by the Playing Rules Committee and making sure player safety was always at the forefront.
“I’m proud of the participation of all the members of the playing rules committee and addressing all those issues over the years, which included taking a real strong direction at strengthening the rules with regard to player safety and concentrating on that,” Hall said.
Hall also worked as a camp advisor at the National Junior Camp and was USA Hockey’s director in New York from 1991-2004. Hall’s coached at all levels of hockey from mites to juniors. In 1985, he was an assistant coach for the USA Hockey junior select team. His coaching led him into player development roles. He also chaired a body checking task force in 2010-11.
In his only paying gig in hockey, he was an off-ice official in the NHL from 1995-2010, working all the New York Islanders home games.
“And it didn’t pay much,” Hall said with a laugh.
Hall’s main paying gig was being a Suffolk County (New York) police officer. He even turned that into an opportunity to grow the game, as Hall was a volunteer with the Suffolk County Police Athletic League when it held Hockey for Free nights open to children 10-and-under at the local hockey rink.
“There’s nothing that brings people out more than ‘free,’ in my opinion,” Hall said.
USA Hockey later adopted the concept. Try Hockey for Free initiatives still happen across the country multiple times each year and a number of NHL teams have been involved.
What also sticks out to Guariglia is how Hall went out of his way to make anyone feel welcome. Hall certainly made her feel welcome as a woman serving on committees at USA Hockey, she said.
“He’s just genuinely one of the nicest people at USA Hockey,” Guariglia said. “I’m not sure you’re going to hear anybody have a bad thing to say about him.”
She saw Hall develop great relationships with young players coming up through the USA Hockey ranks. It wasn’t just about hockey for Hall; he wanted to help these kids become young men and go on to do great things, Guariglia said.
Over the years, as Hall encounters players he’s worked with and coached, many come up to thank him for his help. Some he’d see before their NHL games when he worked in the Islanders’ arena. It’s very rewarding to be a part of it all, Hall said.
“I was looking to become a better person by helping other people become better in their lives as well,” Hall said. “I guess that’s what I was trying to do all those years.”
Hall is still available to help USA Hockey, he said, but he stepped aside to let someone else be part of the conversations. He’s not going to stop watching hockey, and his support for USA Hockey will continue, too.
“I’ve been there [at USA Hockey] for a long time, and it’s always good to get somebody else’s outlook in there,” Hall said.
Having volunteers like Hall is important and getting harder to find, Guariglia said. USA Hockey will miss Hall in his committee roles because he looked “at the big picture and he had this world view of how USA Hockey should function,” she said.
As for those coaches from back home in Potsdam whom he played for as a kid, Hall said he thinks of them quite often.
“Those guys who coached me and ran those youth programs when I was growing up in Potsdam were probably the ones that influenced me the most to volunteer,” Hall said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.