Over the last 15 years, more than $12,000 in grants have been awarded through the Jim Little Fund at the Community Foundation to support local hockey teams with equipment, supplies, coach training and certifications.
The Jim Little Fund was established in 2008 by his wife, Nancy, to continue his coaching legacy and touch the lives of local athletes in a positive way.
“I was very honored to be able to create this fund in memory of my late husband,” said Nancy. “Jim’s dedication to the sport of hockey and to the kids he coached really made a difference. When he died, many of his former players – by then middle-aged men – brought their children to pay their respects. One former player sent flowers with the simple statement, ‘I will never forget you, Coach Little.’ Although that was 15 years ago, I still have that note. I am so proud of Jim and the fact that he touched so many lives for the better.”
The impact of a good coach is not seen simply in the trophy case, but also in the ways in which they touch the lives of the individuals they are guiding. Jim Little certainly fits into that category.
The Community Foundation is proud to work with Nancy and honor the life of Jim by supporting local youth hockey teams. These teams play a vital role in the development of teamwork, leadership, integrity and spirit among youth. Through the Jim Little Fund, a donor advised fund, Nancy can advise on grants that would make her husband proud.
Jim Little coached travel hockey teams for 23 years, beginning with the Port Huron Minor Hockey Association and ending with the Western Ontario Hockey League. He led teams to four International Silver Stick Championships, a national runner-up title, and numerous state, regional, league, and tournament championships. Nancy has fond memories of those days with her husband.
“We frequently ended up with boys bunking in our room during tournaments if their parents were unable to attend – sleeping bags, sweaty clothes, and gear all over the place – and over the years Jim quietly helped players who could not have otherwise afforded to play organized hockey,” she said. “Then, there was the famous tradition of taking the whole team to London’s Dairy for ice cream if someone on the team scored a hat trick! On a funny note, our daughter learned to say ‘hockey’ before she could say ‘mama.’ I’ve never let her live that down.”
Jim also coached his sons’ Marysville Little League teams and enjoyed attending their games when they played football for Marysville High School, serving at one point as president of the Marysville Booster Club. Because he dedicated so much of his life to helping to support and shape young athletes, upon Jim’s death, Nancy decided a fund would be the best way to honor her husband. Jim believed that sports played a positive and vital role in the development of teamwork, leadership, integrity, and spirit among youth, and the fund enables that legacy to continue.
Jim never sought acknowledgement or recognition for doing what he thought was the right thing to do. The fund has been a perfect way for Nancy to quietly continue supporting things that were near and dear to a remarkable man like Jim.
The Jim Little fund is just one example of how a charitable fund with the Community Foundation can ensure that an individual’s community impact can span beyond their lifetime. Contributions can be made to the Jim Little Fund here. If you’d like to explore creating a fund that is tailored to your passions, visit our giving center here.