James King flat out loved sports.
Growing up in Toronto he played minor hockey in the Toronto Marlboros system where he earned the nickname “buggy whips” for his speed, scrawny legs and the fact he weight 145lbs soaking wet. He was an excellent centre iceman but when his older friends began signing up for World War II, 17-year-old Jimmy convinced his mom and dad to allow him to enlist early and head off to defend his country. James proudly served with the Royal Canadian Navy on the HMS Saguenay 179 Destroyer during the Second World War.
Upon his return he needed to stay close to sports so decided to throw himself into hockey. First he became an accomplished official both as a linesman and a referee. He officiated at the Tier II Junior A level as well as Junior B, Junior C and Intermediate A. He even officiated a few games in the American Hockey League. Later he became heavily involved with the Ontario Hockey Association taking on many roles within that organization including vice-president.
“He was gone six nights a week,” says his son John. “He just loved being around the young athletes and he loved the competitiveness that sports brought with it. My mom was very understanding of his passion and was a tremendous support. I also think he knew that hockey would keep him out of trouble.”
In the summers King would take off his skates and pull on his umpires mask. He was strict with the rules but was fair and became a fixture in the Intercity Ontario Amateur Softball Association umpiring many Guelph Ingram games. He talked to the players all the time to allow them to give their perspective but he was in charge and was consistent with his calls.
King was a true builder of the games he loved and many people, young and old, benefited from his objectivity and sense of fair play.
Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Official category – June 18, 2014