|When you think of people behind the scenes of an ice hockey team, the Team Manager, Equipment Manager, Physio and Medic come to mind. But, sometimes there is another important role, with the players’ wellbeing off the ice in mind.The Newcastle North Stars have all of those major roles covered yet there is a glue that bonds all of these together- there for players who are often a long way from home and away from family and friends. She always has a smile on her face and is affectionately known as the “Aussie Mum”.Leanne Doré, wife of the Newcastle North Stars General Manager, Garry Doré, has been around hockey for 30 years.
Every year a new batch of imports lands in Australia keen to taste the Australian way of life and play ice hockey in a foreign land. Leanne and Garry Doré have successfully created a family atmosphere at the North Stars and the players feel like they have been taken in by a close knit family.
This is something that can’t be faked or created, a sentiment shared by Ray Sheffield who has seen firsthand the warmness that is displayed by Leanne.
Former players always sing the praises of the league and how the Newcastle organisation is very unique, one which Pier-Olivier Cotnoir sums up.
“Leanne makes us welcome. She will take us where we need to be, prepares home cooked meals, and even though I am 2000km away from my family, we are welcomed into their family. In speaking to Rob Lawrance, he couldn’t say enough about the league and the North Stars family so it made my decision easy”.
Sentiments are very similar from former North Star, Peter Cartwright. “Leanne was indeed my overseas mum. She takes you in from the second you arrive until the day you leave. She is truly a genuine person that loves sport and helping others. She does everything she can for you and asks nothing in return. I loved Gary and Leanne’s BBQs which were a highlight of my trip down under. I can honestly say I miss them both”.
The motherly love that is displayed by Leanne doesn’t stop with the North Stars players. In the 2012 season, the Melbourne Ice’s Jason Baclig was hospitalised after the clash against the North Stars. Without thought, the Doré’s made sure Jason was not alone and even had his girlfriend stay at their house.
It doesn’t matter what sport we play or barrack for, it’s not the bricks and mortar that make a club. It’s people like Leanne Doré. During hockey season, from Thursday to Sunday, she lives and breathes hockey. I’m sure Leanne wouldn’t have it any other way.
Craig is a Newcastle-based writer for Hewitt Sports Network. You can follow Craig on Twitter @Cray70.