The sport of ball hockey has lost a friend.
There are no words that can justify the cruel world we live in when someone is taken from us too early. Robert Wilfred Mentis was a wonderful person.
Mr. Mentis was the consummate gentlemen both in and outside the sport of ball hockey. The man was a fierce competitor in the game of ball hockey and it didn't matter if it was at the League, Provincials, Nationals or Worlds. He was a winner. He was one of the most accomplished players ever winning numerous individual honors, all star selections and championships, but what was his greatest accomplishment was the time he gave away from the floor enriching the lives of his teammates and opponents.
What he did inside the walls was magical, but what he did off the floor and in the dressing rooms, foyers, parking lots is what we will always cherish, the stories, knowledge and perspective on the sport, but always relating it to life. Work to always be better and plan to achieve your own greatness.
He was a great fan, supporter and player within the game and ball hockey family. He was a pioneer, one of the original building blocks of the Brampton Midnight Express. He along with Terry Griffith and brother James Mentis were the life blood of the team from its inception first National Championship in 1996. He was a great promoter of the game who had a sincere passion and love for the sport. He was a proponent of expansion of the game throughout the province at all levels. He honestly believed it was indeed "A Game Anyone Can Play" and he lived it.
When Team Canada came calling in 2001, there he was at camp setting the tone for the entire team and winning gold in Toronto that June.
In the summer of 2013, he returned to the National program as an assistant coach to teach, guide and share his knowledge with the next generation, the consummate professional in assisting wherever he was required and showing the leadership and again the team won gold.
For those who had the honor of playing and coaching against him you considered yourself better for it. He played the game fearlessly, but when it was time to chat, there he was in the parking lot, advising his opponents that they were a good team, but just keep working at it. Always respectful and with that infectious smile. You see he wanted to bring out the best in everyone and he always did, the better they were the better he was. He was our sports greatest left winger on the best team of all time and always made time for everyone.
Mr. Mentis was also a wonderful father and near the end of his Tier 1 career began playing on his son’s team where he enjoyed teaching the next generation of players the game and not just what was done within the boards, but off the floor. The ‘family’ of ball hockey players that make our game what it is.
Today, all we can do is think back to the discussions each of us had with him and we all will miss him, but his legacy will always remain with the people his life touched.
As a player, just close your eyes for a moment and you can see racing down the left side of the floor and cutting to the middle and releasing his shot and scoring a goal and then being joined by his teammates and flashing that smile.
Our prayers are with him, his family as he indeed was a wonderful brother, father, special talent, teammate and friend and we were all better for having had him in our lives.
Forever in our hearts #27