Ed Collinson, one of Maple Ridge’s most beloved sports figures, died Thursday, May 24 at the age of 78.
The track and field coach with Golden Ears Athletics, Collinson was also actively involved in local curling, both as a mentor and player.
His daughter Tina said she’s been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support her family has received.
“He had such a big heart,” said his daughter. “He just loved sports so much and he wanted everyone to have the opportunity to experience what he did. It didn’t matter if they couldn’t afford it. He would meet them at a park and just give of himself. He cared about everyone he coached.”
A “generosity of spirit” is what Tina said drew people to him.
A gifted athlete while growing up in Ontario, Collinson was scouted by both the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Pirates in the early 1950s. He instead joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving for 14 years.
He moved his family west in 1972, heading to Fort Nelson, where his coaching career began. He then moved to Smithers, where he was active in both hockey and curling. In 2000, he qualified for the men’s B.C. provincial finals.
“He was quite proud that these young hot-shots asked this seasoned curler to be part of their team,” noted Tina.
It was also during this time that he competed in the B.C. Senior Summer Games, where he was a multiple gold medal winner.
Tina said her father’s dry sense of humour and unselfishness were his greatest strengths.
“He would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need,” said Tina.
In his time in Maple Ridge over the past decade, he gravitated to track and field, touching the lives of so many athletes, said Tina.
While he spent so much time teaching others, Tina said his first passion were his grandchildren.
“He loved them more than anything in the world. He taught them to swim, ride their bikes, golf, and curl. He told me in his last days that I have to throw the ball with them. His first priority was to his family, followed closely by sports. Forever and always, that was his constant.”
Andrew Lenton, head coach with Golden Ears Athletics, said it was Collinson’s approach to sports, and life, that made him so successful.
“Ed is remembered by so many kids and coaches because he made teaching and learning fun, while demanding focus and discipline,” said Lenton. “His expertise, humour, and generosity will sorely be missed and Ed has left a void that will be difficult to fill.”
• A celebration of Ed Collinson’s life will be held Sunday, June 3, at 12788 – 235 Street, Maple Ridge, 1-3 p.m.