Flying Fathers / TEAM HISTORY
The Flying Fathers' hockey team is the brain child of Father Brian McKee of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Together with some of his companions, the original team was formed in 1962 and played their first game in the 1962-63 season .
The idea of a hockey club of Roman Catholic priests was stimulated by the fact that there were so many priests who could display a high quality of hockey talent. The Flying Fathers are well known throughout North America having appeared on HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA on a number of occasions. In recent times, the team has received favourable coverage on U.S. televison. In Canada, the players made an appearance on the Global Network Program entitled, THAT'S LIFE. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had them as guests on their programs: FRONT PAGE CHALLENGE and MAN ALIVE. In RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT!...The Team was given instant world-wide recognition.
Not to be outdone by television, articles dealing with The Flying Fathers have appeared in several National Publications including: THE STAR, HOCKEY MAGAZINE, PEOPLE and EN ROUTE.
By showing good sportsmanship in Canada's national sport and plugging into the need and desire for humour and laughter, they have successfully related an acute sense of the Christian message. As Father McKee stated, "It was a way to let our light shine in the world".
The Flying Fathers, now international in their scope, have played all over Canada, the United States and Europe. They have played for many recognized, worthwhile, charitable and community organizations including: The Crippled Children, Salvation Army, T.B. Association, C.N.I.B., Children's Aid, Minor Hockey, Heart Fund, Church and Youth Organizations, Muscular Dystrophy, Children with Special Needs and many others.
Over the years well over four million dollars has been raised by the Flying Fathers, all of which has been donated to charity.
There have been many priests throughout the team's long history who have dedicated much time and energy in contributing to its success in supporting the cause of charity and healthy entertainment. Father Les Costello who performed for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL winning a Stanley Cup in the 1947-8 season was the heart and soul of the Flying Fathers. He was the clubs co-founder and prayed and played his way through 40 consecutive seasons and was intrumental in the games longevity. Father Les while doing what he loved best, was injured in a game in Kincardine, Ontario, fell into a coma and died days later on December 10, 2002. His life was a total commitment and service to God and the community at large right to the end of his life. The Flying Fathers continue to serve due largely to the wonderful legacy Father Costello has left behind.
In the past three decades, The Flying Fathers have played against many teams displaying a broad range of talent. Among past opponents are Minor and Junior Hockey Teams, NHL Old Timers and many local celebrity teams.
Since the Flying Fathers' is comprised of players from East, West, and Central Canada, they are often asked when they practice. They always respond that they had one good practice and they lost the next game; one of their few losses. Since then they leave it to their coach - God.
With such a powerful and well qualified coach, they win the majority of their games (900 wins, 1 tie, 6 losses). Like other teams, they lose when they ignore their coach.
The real concern for the Flying Fathers is not who wins the games. Father Costello always said "When we play these games, everyone wins, families are brought together while supporting charities. Laughter soothes the body and soul. SAVE THE FAMILY AND YOU SAVE THE WORLD."