A famous early 20th century American author once said… “On the journey of life, it really comes down to a handful of people you meet who you impact your life that you truly admire and remember the rest of your life.”  When it comes to people who have had an impact on many people’s lives in the sport of ball hockey, few can compare to Masters Division General Manager Jamie Cooke.

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Jamie Cooke

“With great appreciation for all he has done for the sport, the community, the national programs, and for ASHI, we have accepted Jamie’s letter of resignation.  Jamie has indicated that it is time for him to move on and do other things with his life, and we fully respect Jamie’s decision.  We certainly don’t want to see him go, but Jamie can step away knowing that he left the Masters program and ASHI in a much better place than he found it.  And for that, along with a host of other things he’s accomplished which are too numerous to mention, I’ve accepted Jamie’s decision.  We are going to miss his dedication, passion and energy that he always brought to the table.”said ASHI Executive Director Ricky Laperriere.

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Jamie Cooke, Ricky Laperriere, Mike DeFazio

ASHI Vice President Mike DeFazio added – “Jamie is the definition of an ambassador of the game, both in the United States and on the International level. Players around the country have the utmost respect for Jamie, and he is the leader and the voice of the generation that helped make this game great. It will be impossible to replace Jamie and his leadership within the organization, but we very much appreciate everything he has done with this sport.”

Jamie had this to say – ” I am moving on for new life experiences with my four kids and love of my life Claudia, I don’t move on from the sport as I plan to enjoy it as a player as long as my body allows. I move on as being a formal leader in the sport which takes dedication and time which I don’t and will not have. I simply don’t do things unless I am 100% committed.

I move on knowing the leadership vacuum will be filled with great people who share my love for our sport. I feel good about that. I leave self fulfilled as I know the sport is in a better place now then when I came to be a contributing leader.”

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Jamie Cooke with fiance Claudia and their children – daughter Kayla (12), son James (9), stepdaughter Giovanna (9), stepson Danta (7)

“Jamie is the second founder of this sport in America in my opinion.  In the mid 2000’s, he revived a dying sport and led the path to what this sport is today in America.  If not for Jamie’s leadership, strength and guidance, this sport would not be flourishing as it is today.  Not only had he revived the sport on the men’s side, eleven years ago Jamie began the Women’s National Program in America and blazed the trail for many after him.  His dedication and commitment to this sport in the last 15 years has been peerless.  Jamie has personally given me strength and shown me what true leadership is since the ASHI rebuild and most of the time, without him knowing that he was doing it.” said ASHI President Chris Banks.

Jamie’s contribution to the sport are numerous.  Beyond his work with the Masters Division here at ASHI, he is the founder of Cool Hockey Events, the premier tournament organizer and host of several prestigious tournaments.  He is the founder of the Women’s Team USA Ball Hockey program.  He helped with the rebuild of ASHI in early 2013.  He has assisted with the founding and development of several tournaments throughout the United States, including Matt Garry’s Tampa, FL tournaments and Terry Cox’s Las Vegas, NV tournaments.  He has personally dedicated thousands of hours to the sport and almost single handedly kept the sport going when it seemed like ball hockey was on its last legs in the 2000s.  We spoke with several people throughout the community who offered their thoughts on Jamie…

Angelo Terrana – “I don’t know where to begin on recounting how much Jamie has changed contributed to this sport.  He stands head and shoulders above anyone in terms of his commitment to growing the game.  He has been an amazing player, coach, and manager at every level.  I have had the opportunity to play with him and for him.  I’m very lucky.  Most importantly, he is my close friend and for that I’ll always be grateful.”

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Jamie and Angelo in 2014

Wayne Barrett – “I was fortunate enough to have Jamie Cooke email me about joining DC Street Hockey Leagues around ’02. Jamie helped me find some travel tournaments for our DC Phantoms Travel Team in ’04 and our travel team took off from there with all of the Cool Hockey Events, Madden’s tournaments in Pittsburgh as well as George’s tournaments in Reading/Harrisburg. Jamie also got me involved with the USA Women’s Program around the same time in Pittsburgh for a National Tourney and I have to give him a HUGE thank you for that as I’m still involved with the USA Women’s Program still today. Jamie is also a Philly guy, like myself, and we were able to capture some City of Origin Tournament Championships with the Philly team at my Seminary Rink in the DC area. Our sport owes a log to street hockey legend as he was a major part of why we still have all of these tournaments today.”

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Wayne and Jamie celebrating one of their many championships together

George Tarantino – “Never in my life have I encountered an individual who has had such a large impact on any one thing. When my tournament career started, the tournament circuit was starting to fade. Tournaments in my region would have 4 top teams and 6 total if you were lucky. Jaime Cooke’s desire to re-invigorate tournament hockey had staggering results. He founded Cool Hockey Events. North American Championships. Beach bash. Teams he organized traveled to Tampa, Las Vegas, Barrie, Turks and Caicos islands. He singlehandedly made the tournament I run, The Super Bowl bye week Invitational, a true A tournament by convincing some of the countries top teams to travel to pa way back in 2006. Little known today is that in 2007 it was his idea to set up a non profit to be the governing body of our sport, help organize and run national teams, develop leagues and youth programs. That directly led to the dusting off of then dormant  American Street Hockey Institute. Add in his great organizing skills of a few of our national teams and it’s an irreplaceable resume. I will always be personally thankful to him for all the opportunities I have had to compete in all these different places and venues.”

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Jamie and George in 2012

Women’s Division General Manager Jason Kelly also is one of the owners of Cool Hockey Events, which Jamie founded in 2004.  Jason and Jamie have worked closely together throughout the years, from developing the Women’s program to organizing teams and tournaments from coast to coast.

Jason Kelly – “What can I say about Jamie Cooke ? Jamie was the man who brought me into this crazy world of ball hockey tournaments.  He taught me just about everything I know on how to run them and how to treat a customer. If it wasn’t for Jamie I wouldn’t be who I am in the hockey world today. Jamie brought the travel ball hockey world to where it is today. His influence is still felt even though he retired from running events years ago. Our most popular event, the Beach Bash, was his first. And people in Ocean City, where we hold the tournament to this day, still ask about him. Besides travel hockey. I truly do owe Jamie a lot for my position with the USA Women’s National Team. In 2007, Jamie put so much time, effort, personal money, and sacrifice to get that team built and to the World Championships in Germany. His effort with the women is still felt today as that team and coaching staff are still united as friends and play hockey together nationally to this day.

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Jason and Jamie in 2016
Jamie Cooke is the Godfather of ball hockey to me. And the guy who made it all happen in the Philadelphia area. I could never repay him for what he has done for me. And will miss him in the national scene dearly. He is irreplaceable. To Jamie himself, I say simply Thank you brother!!!”

We spoke with members of the first ever Women’s Team USA that competed at the 2007 ISBHF World Ball Hockey Championships in Germany – Colleen O’Connell and Karen Doria.

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2007 Women’s Ball Hockey Team USA, the first ever assembled

Colleen O’Connell – “Jamie was such a prominent part of the genesis of the Women’s National program.. His forethought and vision as the GM of the 2007 national team set a precedence and a standard that helped propel the program to the level it has achieved to this point. His contributions to this program are greatly appreciated and will be sadly missed.. The USA program has been lucky to have Jamie on board. I personally would like to wish Jamie the best of luck in all his future endeavors, if they are anything like his efforts with the USA program he will find great success.”

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Colleen O’Connell, Jamie Cooke, Karen Doria

Karen Doria – “Jamie Cooke is the founding father of the USA Women’s ball hockey team. Without his vision,dedication, commitment and desire and his overall contribution to the game (sometimes out of his own pocket) there probably would not be a Women’s National Team today. His desire to develop a Women’s National Team was started in 2005 when he build a team of staff, selection and preparation process which successfully placed a team in the 2007 ISBHF Woman’s World Ball Hockey Championship in Germany. During this time he was responsible for mentoring and preparing players to compete in the first women’s world championship. From that point forward the seeds were planted and the growing continues. Jamie (Cookie) is what we called him (2007) is the GODFATHER of women’s ball hockey. He truly cared about his players and took the time to understand each and everyone of us outside of the hockey rink. He is by far very well respected for all he has done and accomplished for the women’s program. Jamie also deserves all the credit for implementing the first Women’s Masters Team USA which competed in Tampa in 2014. I remember him calling me one day and asking what I thought about his vision of a implementing a Women’s Masters team? I told him if he builds it they will come (referring to women’s 2007 team) Jamie did more than develop and implement the women’s program with his desire and dedication but he created a family. If it weren’t for him I would not have the hockey family in my life that I have today nor the memories that were made in the process which I will carry for a lifetime. For that I am most grateful. I am truly happy for the journey and the ride he was able to give to all of us. One quote I would like to share and stands true today that Jamie would say is smile and go out there and have fun. He knew that in the end that’s what it is all about!!”

One of Jamie’s most trusted advisors and a great friend these past years has been Nick Beard.  Nick served as Jamie’s Assistant General Manager for the Masters Division.

Nick Beard – “At this time five years ago Jamie asked me to join him on a journey that brought us closer then almost anyone in the hockey community. We set out with a plan and a goal with not much understanding at first of how we would get there. Through the years we have gotten closer and closer and become hockey friends and even better life friends with our journey concluding in Banff a few months ago. I can’t thank Jamie enough for being my line mate, teammate and most importantly my friend.  I want to wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

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Nick and Jamie together in Banff for the 2016 Masters Championships

Jamie has made a lot of good friends throughout the years.  One of them is Long Island, NY native Anthony Cillo, who was the Captain for both the 2014 and 2016 USA Masters teams.  Anthony and Jamie shared many games together, both as teammates but also adversaries, and Jamie will tell you that there is no more a better and more fierce competitor than Mr. Cillo.

Anthony Cillo – “As far as I’m concerned, Jamie saved this sport in the US.  Without him, most of us would not be playing anymore.  He’s a great leader but more importantly, an even better friend.  I’ll miss him and I wish him well.”

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2016 Masters Team USA

Jamie was also a player on the 2016 Team DC Masters team,which was coached by New Jersey native Rock Stefan.  Rock and Jamie have known each other for many years, and Rock was grateful for the opportunity to coach the team under Jamie’s leadership as the GM.

Rock Stefan – “I have known Jamie for a long period of time and there is no better player when it came to putting his team first. He would always walk off the rink, head to toe bruises, knowing he left it all on the rink. As his career unfolded his love for this game and dedication to growing the sport was second to none. We should all be thankful for his stubbornness to keep improving the best game in the world. My personal thanks for allowing me to be a part of it my friend.”

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Jamie Cooke, Nick Beard, and Rock Stefan

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2016 Team District of Columbia

Prior to the 2016 Masters World Championships, both Men’s USA and DC teams head up to Niagra, Ontario for a final preparation camp.  While there was a break between activities, I happened upon Jamie in the parking lot.  He had several boxes worth of t-shirts, hats, and other assorted USA branded items.  He was folding some polo shirts very neatly in the back of his SUV.  I struck up a conversation with him about his role as GM and all the little things he has to do to ensure the program is successful, such as folding those shirts so that they don’t get wrinkled when they are presented to the players.  I asked him what he thought was the hardest part about the General Manager position.  What he responded struck me about what type of character and leadership he exhibited, and about what it takes to be successful.

“Everything about it can be hard if you don’t love what you’re doing.” he replied.  “I might have bad days and complain about things from time to time like everyone else, but I love the game, and I’ll never complain about having to do something that helps the game or the players.”

I always thought that spoke volumes about what type of person Jamie is.

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Jamie with his son James

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Jamie with his daughter Kayla

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Jamie and his fiance Claudia

When I asked him for this thoughts about leaving ASHI, Jamie was poignant in his discussions with me about his future…

“There are so many people who gave and give so much to this sport and add value. There are too many people to thank so I thank all those people. Those who added value with me and on their own, thank you. I would also like to thank the people who stood by me, believed in me and challenged me. Thank you.  And most importantly, I thank the players, that’s who I always cared about. In the end, for me it was always about the players. That is the foundation of the sport.”

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Signed Team DC Jersey for Jamie
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Jamie during the 2014 ISBHF Masters World Championships in Tampa

Everyone here at ASHI will miss Jamie tremendously.  His courage, vision, and dedication were a key part of building the programs we have today.  Chris Banks offered up these parting thoughts…

“I thank Jamie from the bottom of my heart for giving me friendship, courage, strength through turmoil and most importantly understanding.  He is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met and am lucky to have had him in my life.  I wish him the best of luck in the future with his new path in life.  He will be missed. Good luck, my friend.”

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