MORRIS TOWNSHIP — Josie and Gigi Charette are certainly committed to hockey, and the sisters flew three thousand miles across the country recently to prove it.
The Charette’s, granddaughters of George Charette, who taught basic skating and hockey skills to numerous players and was instrumental in helping to build Morris County hockey from the 1970’s through the 1990’s, traveled from their Seattle home on July 13 to present the 2018 George Charette Award to Maggie Bringard at Mennen Arena.
Bringard skated for the New Jersey Colonials and concluded her four-year career at Pequannock this winter. The award is given annually to recognize an outstanding Colonials League senior female and male who demonstrate “a true passion for the game.”
The talented center will continue her hockey career in the fall at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. This past winter she captained the Colonials female 19-U minor team.
George Charette was one of the founders of the Morris County Youth Ice Hockey League, recognized additionally as the Colonial Hockey League. Charette was active in teaching hockey basics and coaching numerous Colonial Hockey League All-Star teams from 1975 through 1999. The Morris County Secondary Schools Ice Hockey League created the Charette Division to honor George’s service and longtime contributions.
“I found out toward the end of the season about getting the award,” said Bringard. “It was unexpected, honestly. To be given such an amazing award named for such a super person was very special. Mr. Charette kind of created hockey in Morris County, so to be awarded this for game that I love is fantastic.
“I started playing hockey when I was six. My dad had a hockey tournament in Lake Placid. He finished the game and was getting off the ice, and I put my foot on the ice and I was hooked.”
A jersey with Charette’s name and the number 75 (commemorating the year Mennen Arena opened in 1975) hang in Rink 3.
Kevin Charette, George’s eldest son, was unaware of the award in his father’s name until recently.
“I did not know that my dad’s passion for ice hockey has been kept alive by handing out this award,” he said. “My girls have become dedicated hockey players, and my wife and I wanted them to connect with the legacy of their grandfather. Meeting Maggie (Bringard) was a great way to do this.
“She is an inspiration to my daughters and all female hockey players and deserving of this award. Maggie now better understands who George was and why an award was created in his name.”
Kevin’s Garden State hockey roots run deep.
He and his brother, Rich, both skated in the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Kevin began his scholastic career at Whippany Park for a year before playing his final three seasons at Morristown-Beard, where he helped the Crimson win the Mennen Cup championship in consecutive seasons in 1982 and 1983. Co-captain of the ’83 squad, Charette played on that title-winning club with current Park Regional coach Tom Levis, who was a freshman for Morristown-Beard that season.
“There weren’t any girls or women’s teams back then,” Kevin recalled, “and there were very few girls even playing hockey in New Jersey. Now, we have a National Women’s Hockey League team in New Jersey in the Riveters and women’s hockey from coast-to-coast.”
Now, the Colonial Hockey League www.colonialshockey.org and the Western Washington Female Hockey Association www.wwfha.org each offer hockey to females from four to 19-years of age. Josie Charette skates at the 12-U level while Gigi is currently playing 8-U.
The Metropolitan Riveters recently won the 2018 Isobel Cup.
“My father never did get to see his granddaughters play hockey,” Kevin Charette noted, “but his passion for the game and self-confidence that it engenders still exists in them and others. Some people wish to be buried at sea while others would prefer a more traditional final resting place. However, George always said ‘when I go put me at center ice, face up, so everyone can see me in my true home’.”
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
Special to HockeyClan
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