Born in Welsford, Kings Co. Feb. 17, 1931, Fred Clarke forged a long and successful coaching career in both hockey and baseball, and was also a leader for many years in Berwick recreation circles.
In 1961, Fred began coaching Berwick minor hockey teams. By the time he finished coaching in 1978, he had coached teams at every level from novice to midget.
As was the case with many minor sport coaches, Fred also filled the role of chauffeur to and from games. His son Chris recalls one time the team was returning from a game in Kentville. “We were all in dad's van and he had the music on. He didn't like our choices, and put on some 'oldies' instead.”
One of the songs, apparently one of Fred's favorites, was by Andy Williams. Fred Alexie, one of the players, took to calling Fred 'Andy Williams', eventually shortened to 'Andy'. The nickname stuck, and Fred became 'Andy' to many of his former players.
Fred Alexie also recalls the team he was on would be first on the ice on Saturday mornings. Kenny Lee and Cyril Kinsman, who worked at the arena, “would give the key to coach Clarke so he could open up and they wouldn't have to go in as early.”
Alexie remembers Brian MacAskill and his cousin John sitting at the post office in their hockey gear, waiting for Coach Clarke to arrive and open the arena so they could be first on the ice.
Clarke, Alexie recalls, often would coach two age groups at the same time, “and would let the younger ones play against the older ones to get experience. Everyone always had a lot of respect for Coach Fred.”
Chris Clarke remembers being on a team with Paul Easson who wasn't being one the most aggressive of players on the ice in one particular game. “Dad told him to pick it up and make believe he was one of his father's Mack trucks. Paul went out and started running over anything in sight. It was one of his better games.”
One of Fred's fondest memories as a hockey coach took place in 1970, when one of his teams became the first Berwick team to win the Kentville Invitational tournament.
From 1961 to 1974, Fred also coached minor baseball in Berwick. Again, he coached teams at every level from peewee to midget. Fred Alexie, who also played baseball on Fred's teams, remembers one season the Berwick peewees defeated Kingston.
“Kingston went on to win the provincial title that year, and we were the only team all season to beat them.” Alexie recalls, “Coach Fred's strategy was to walk the Banks twins, Kingston's two best hitters – and it worked.”
He was also involved in Scouting for many years, and had six of his troop become Queen Scouts.
Fred spent a term on Berwick town council, and from 1963 to 1974, chaired the town's Recreation Committee. He also served on the Arena and Sports Facility Committee from 1965 to 1974.
Fred, who lived in Coldbrook in later years, passed away Dec. 28, 2010 in his 80th year. His wife Margaret recalls, “all four of our boys were in hockey,” and Fred had enough interest in sports for both of them. “I never went to the rink,” Margaret says. “I found it too cold.”
Fred's boys were often on the teams he coached, but according to Margaret, they never received any special treatment. “He treated all the boys the same, not just his own, but all of them.”
Fred, his wife recalls, always subscribed to the motto, “it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. If you won, you won, and if you lost, you lost, and you knew how to handle both.”
In addition to his coaching, Fred played Old-Timers hockey and also pulled tug-of-war and was inducted into The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 1962 Provincial Tug of War Championship Team.
He had a distinguished career in the Masonic and Eastern Star Fraternities, becoming Grand Master of Masons in Nova Scotia and Most Worthy Grand Patron of the General Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the builder category, Fred Clarke.