ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Miles Tompkins has served in virtually every role there is for the Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Junior Bulldogs. He has been head coach, general manager, executive member and, in the last number of years, team president. Now you can add – past-president.
Tompkins has officially announced he is stepping down as president of the local Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League (NSJHL) franchise and does so with an eye towards, eventually, ending his long-time association with the club.
“It’s a gradual first-step towards moving away all together,” he said in conversation with the Casket, July 31.
“You just have to do it, eventually,” he added.
Tompkins said it’s just time for the personal move and that he will not be too far away.
“I’ll still being doing my part in selling tickets and with the Twoonie tumble,” he said, references to the Bulldogs’ 50-50 draws during home games as well as in the summer at Riverside International Speedway race events, and to a fundraiser he brought to the club a couple of years ago which involves a weekly draw and has drop-off stations all around town.
“It has really grown,” Tompkins said of the tumble, noting it could continue its growth with a couple of new drop-off venues this fall.
Tompkins said he steps away at a good time as far as stability with the club with Gerry Marangoni continuing in the general manager’s role he took on to begin last season, and head coach Dave Synishin and his staff expected to return behind the bench.
He also noted the “incredible” executive which oversees the club.
“They work very hard, all the fundraising … I don’t know what we would do without them,” he said. “You think about the 50-50 at the races and all of that; it’s an awful pile of work, you give up a lot of weekends.”
Tompkins, who would prefer to talk junior hockey than about his own involvement, also noted the NSJHL being in great shape and that he is looking forward to the first-year for the Eskasoni franchise – the Eagles – which will join Antigonish, the Strait Pirates, Pictou County Scotians, Cumberland Blues and defending Don Johnson Cup champions Kameron Jr. Miners, who play out of Membertou, and in the Sid Rowe Division; an addition which will even out the league’s two divisions (six teams in each).
“I think the Miners might be a little weaker with Eskasoni coming in; having someone in their backyard,” he said, referencing the Miners’ regular season dominance of the division in recent years.
“It will be good for the hockey; it will draw in more people. They’ll be a strong franchise in a couple of years, guaranteed.”
One of the bigger developments Tompkins oversaw in the last couple of seasons with the Bulldogs was the establishment of the Saputo Scholarships which were generously provided by the family of player Giordano Saputo, a forward who skated for the Bulldogs the past four seasons while attending St. F.X.
After the 2016-17 season and 2017-18 season, scholarships totaling $16,000 were awarded to nine players; four scholarships of $2,000 after the ’17 season and three of $2,000 and two of $1,000 after the ’18 season. The scholarship awards are in place for three more seasons.
“The scholarship is open to students entering secondary school programs at either St. F.X. or local community colleges, and is awarded based on academic excellence, community involvement and athletic performance,” a note from the Bulldogs reads.
“This year’s winners were goaltender Jared Green from Antigonish, forward Ryan Kennedy of Antigonish, and defensemen Liam Roland from Ontario, with Mitchell Bowman of Antigonish and Declan Murphy of Halifax (with Antigonish family connections) sharing the final award.”
Tompkins noted it was a lot of crossing ‘Ts’ and dotting ‘Is’ in getting the scholarships established, but they certainly can act as an incentive to a player thinking about playing for the Junior Bulldogs.