By @StefanKubus –
John Vigilante’s impact on youth hockey will live on.
Shortly after the hockey community lost the beloved coach and former Plymouth Whalers star, a GoFundMe page was established to create a new fundraising initiative designed to help families afford the cost of hockey.
The GoFundMe page – which can be seen here – was established by Dany Beaupre, an assistant coach with the Belle Tire 19U team.
“We’ll go through USA Hockey and pay for ice bills for kids that can’t afford to play,” Beaupre said. “We want to give them opportunities to play hockey and fulfill dreams so they’ll have a chance like John had, because he was lucky to have great parents that support him and be there to give him those opportunities. John loving hockey so much and the kids so much and the game, he provided a lot of opportunities for coaching and his time… This is way his legacy can continue on in memory of him for these kids.”
Beaupre had known Vigilante since age 6, as the two grew up in Dearborn, together playing hockey and attending high school along the way.
“We were always playing roller hockey or street hockey or doing Kim Muir power skating together,” Beaupre said. “He was a good guy, he could change a mood in seconds with the smile he had. It brightened everybody up. He could really motivate the kids.
“The hockey I.Q. is unbelievable that John had and what he shared with everybody, his knowledge, his skills. He could motivate these kids and touch them in their hearts. He helped a lot of girls get to college, D3, D1, that are still even playing right now in Minnesota, St. Cloud State, a bunch of schools.”
St. Cloud State’s Megan Roe and Hannah Bates were just two of the names Vigilante helped advance to the next level, by coaching, but also going the extra mile.
“He would literally spend hours and hours talking to scouts, free of charge, to help get these kids to school,” Beaupre said.
“He loved these kids like his own kids and treated them like his own kids. He wanted to make sure they had opportunities.”
It should come as no surprise that Vigilante was nominated for the AHL’s Man of the Year award multiple times, for his charitable work off the ice in local communities.
“He did a lot of charity work when he was playing for people who didn’t have these opportunities. He was unselfish like that and gave his time. He continued to do that after his playing career.”
People have been paying their respects to Vigilante on social media; here are just some of the comments as his teammates, players and friends remember him.
Thank you for helping me reach my dreams and for pushing me harder than I thought I ever could be. You will be missed Coach John. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/B8BhkUuKHC
— Hannah Bates (@HannahBates08) July 19, 2018
From everyone on the Belle Tire 19u girls team and the entire organization, we are saddened to say that we had to say goodbye to a member of our family, John Vigilante. Please keep the Vigilante family in your prayers. You will always be in our hearts. #BTForever
— Belle Tire (@belletire19) July 19, 2018
Chris Terry, Vigilante’s teammate in Plymouth and current member of the Detroit Red Wings organization:
Extremely sadden. Vig was an amazing player, Captain, but most importantly a really good person and friend who treated me amazing during my time with the Whalers. He will be greatly missed.
— Chris Terry (@christerry25) July 19, 2018
James Neal, current member of the Calgary Flames and teammate to both Terry and Vigilante in Plymouth:
He was our Captain but most importantly he was everyone’s best friend. His laugh is one u will never forget. He loved the game more then anyone and as a young kid coming into junior he was the one that took you under his wing. Thank you Vig you were a great man. RIP 9 https://t.co/ScmTrJQhua
— James Neal (@jneal_18) July 20, 2018
We are so saddened to hear of the passing of alum John Vigilante, who played for the #NTDP in its infancy during the 2001-02 season. Our deepest condolences are with the Vigilante family. pic.twitter.com/iceI6ASBK8
— USA Hockey NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) July 19, 2018
We are saddened by the loss of Griffins alum John Vigilante. In addition to his contributions on the ice, John was named our 2009-10 nominee for the AHL’s Man of the Year Award for his impact on the West Michigan community.
We extend our condolences to his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/J5yt3aszY4
— Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) July 20, 2018
Fredrik Soderstrom, Vigilante’s coach during his time in Sweden:
He was really appreciated in Sweden, as a player, but even more as a person. Came to the rink with a huge smile, hard working, every day. As a coach you could not ask for more, i’m truly sorry to here about this. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
— Fredrik Söderström (@HerrSoderstrom) July 20, 2018
Heavy heart today with hearing of the passing of John Vigilante, thank you for the years of development to the person and player I have become today. Will miss sitting next to you on the bench every week, and the constant laughter. Love you JV your teachings will be carried on!❤
— Kayla Martinez (@kmartinez_99) July 19, 2018
The OHL family sadly mourns the sudden loss of John Vigilante.
A star in Plymouth from 2002-06, he served as team captain his final season and is second in all-time Whaler points with 246 recorded in 254 games.#OHLAlumni | https://t.co/zqYLf2XuzZ pic.twitter.com/AzQ686gTO4
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) July 20, 2018
We send our sincerest condolences to John’s family and friends. pic.twitter.com/aqXLeElwHW
— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) July 20, 2018
We are so saddened to hear of the passing of Admirals Alum John Vigilante, who played for us from 2006-08. In addition to his skill on the ice, Vig was our Community Man of the Year for his work off of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. pic.twitter.com/NRV9G3DZbg
— Milwaukee Admirals (@mkeadmirals) July 19, 2018