Lee Hathaway’s Lifelong Dedication to Hockey Earned Him Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction
By Maria Sonnenberg // September 16, 2023
FIXTURE AT SPACE COAST ICEPLEX SINCE 1997
ABOVE VIDEO: Lee Hathaway’s lifelong dedication to hockey earned him Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction in 2018. Hathaway discovered the IcePlex and joined the facility’s amateur recreational league in 1997, earning kudos for most valuable team player, most assist, general manager of the year and coach of the year, among others.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – You can find Lee Hathaway at the Space Coast IcePlex, where every week he plays pick-up games of hockey with players as young as 16. This may not seem like a big deal, but consider that Hathaway will soon be 82 and he wears an artificial hip, and an old one at that.
To say Hathaway lives ice hockey is an understatement. In 1949, when Hathaway’s father suggested that he and his older brother Len give ice hockey a try in their native Rhode Island, he couldn’t have possibly realized what an impact the sport was to have on his son’s life.
The Merritt Islander has been sliding that puck across the ice since his days in Rhode Island public schools, where he was selected for the Rhode Island School Boys’ Hockey All-State Team.
Along his life’s journey, he also played hockey during his year at Bridgton Academy in Maine before joining the U.S. Army in 1962, and, you guessed it, playing some more hockey.
MILITARY, COLLEGE STANDOUT
Stationed in Germany for almost three years, Hathaway was part of the United States Army Team and traveled extensively throughout Europe playing Olympic competition across the continent.
During his first season overseas, he was also selected to play games for the German local travel team, which also added to the list of Olympic European team competitions under his belt.
“I was one of the few Americans in the early 60s to play hockey for a European hockey team,” said Hathaway.
Hathaway opted to play semi-pro hockey for a year for the Providence Rhode Island Chicks team before heading to Michigan State in 1965. Here he played Division I hockey until 1968, helping his team get to the Frozen Four Tournament during the 1967-68 season.
As a part-time graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Hathaway added to his hockey credits two seasons with the school’s Club Hockey Team.
His evolution to coach began in 1976, as Hathaway helped coach hockey and baseball teams in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He never stopped playing hockey, though.
“I was always a contender for the league’s leading scorer on each hockey team,” said Hathaway.
Upon moving to Florida, Hathaway discovered the IcePlex and joined the facility’s amateur recreational league in 1997. He decided to leave the league in 2016, but not before earning kudos for most valuable team player, most assist, general manager of the year and coach of the year, among others.
As captain/player/coach of the league’s 2015 summer season squad, Hathaway is proud of the fact that the team amassed a won-loss record of 16-0.
To pay the bills, Hathaway sold and rented construction equipment until his retirement in 2007. The golden years free from work have afforded him to, yes, you guessed it again, play more hockey.
After his hip replacement in 1999, his doctor recommended he never get on the ice again. Hathaway ignored him.
“I got back to the ice as soon as I could skate,” he said.
A familiar figure at the IcePlex in Rockledge, Hathaway continues with pick-up games and with the rink’s award-winning Blast sled hockey team, which offers players with disabilities the opportunity to excel in the sport. In a long life focused on hockey, Hathaway considers his volunteer efforts for the Blast as a highlight.
“Sled hockey players are the best athletes in the world,” he said. “Working with these players has been my best moments and accomplishments in hockey.”
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