Scott Holmes wrapped up his elite amateur hockey career with the Fond du Lac Bears in 1990.
That same year, Holmes got the Fondy No Check Hockey League going and started his own team, Scotty’s Auto, named after his auto repair business in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Now, 28 years later, Scotty’s Auto is still running strong on the ice.
“It’s real competitive and fast hockey,” said Scotty’s Auto team member Jeff Nelson.
The league, which has six teams, is also going strong. It uses a draft system every year.
“The nucleus of the teams kind of stay the same for all the teams, but there’s a couple of members that just kind of change every year,” Holmes said. “Everybody kind of leaves that nucleus alone in the draft. We leave them alone, they leave us alone.”
That means Holmes has a couple of his longtime friends on the team every year.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to draft me on my team, obviously,’” Holmes said. “But I also said, ‘You’ve got to draft my buddy Jeff Nelson, who I’ve been with my whole life.’”
Holmes and Nelson have been skating together for nearly 50 years and were teammates with the Fond du Lac Bears. They are also the last two remaining original members of Scotty’s Auto hockey team.
At 59, Nelson is the oldest player in the Fondy No Check Hockey League with Holmes not far behind at 57. The guys play against skaters who are as young as 18, but Holmes and Nelson hold their own.
“I think we do pretty good,” Holmes said. “I still score goals every game. I’m proud of that.”
“If they’re going fast, you’ve got to play fast to keep up,” Nelson said. “It’s the only way to stay in shape.”
The league, which runs October to March, plays out of the Blue Line Family Ice Center and has some strong players. Things always start to heat up late in the season.
“Nobody really worries about it until the playoffs,” Nelson said. “Once the playoffs are here, then game on.”
Nelson loves getting on the ice once a week and staying active.
“I’m coming back, I went through hip surgery in March ,” Nelson said. “I’m going to keep going until I can’t walk anymore.”
Holmes, who skates on the team regularly with one of his three sons, gets a little extra boost to play hockey from the support people in his life.
“My family, my friends and all the youth, all the young kids keep me going,” Holmes said. “I’m playing with kids that coach now, and it’s beautiful. Now I’m back in the program coaching with my grandsons. It’s a great big circle that keeps going around.”
Holmes enjoys having former players he coached in the league.
“It’s nice because they respect you because you’re so old and you’re still playing, but they still respect you because you’re still pretty good yet,” Holmes said.
Along with playing weekly in the Fondy No Check Hockey League, a number of the Scotty’s Auto players compete in the annual Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships in Eagle River, Wisconsin. The guys drive the three hours north to hang out and play some hockey.
The team plays under the name The Original Sicks, skating in the 50+ Tier I Division. In 2018, the guys went 1-2. It’s an unusual year when The Original Sicks don’t make the playoffs. A few years ago, the team advanced to the championship game of a 40+ Division but fell by a couple goals.
The guys love getting a chance to get away for a long weekend to enjoy each other’s company.
“It’s good to see guys I haven’t seen for a long time, guys I played with in the ’80s in the GLHL,” Holmes said. “I just played against one today and I haven’t seen him in 30 years. That’s what’s cool about it — you see some friends from the [Upper Peninsula] that you haven’t seen, and Minnesota and Illinois. That’s the beauty of this.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.