Like most young military boys growing up around a base, Peter played hockey in the winter and baseball and golf in the summer first in Petawawa and then Greenwood. Sports came naturally to him. His skills developed and he was noted for his "smooth hands". Peter was a gifted goal scorer and an accurate passer. He was captain, leading scorer and team MVP in his hockey days at West Kings High School. He starred with the Greenwood Junior Bombers, the Berwick Bruins Intermediate team and the Grimshaw Huskies of the Alberta League. As a smooth fielding second baseman, he made the All-Star team in the Valley Fastball League. While with the Berwick Eassons he was a member of Berwick's famous Roger's Dodgers. Peter was also a steady golfer and recorded a hole-in-one at Paragon and reached a playoff in the South Berwick Invitational Golf Tournament.
As the children (Mark, Michael and Amanda) came along Peter turned his attention to coaching and supporting their athletic careers. He coached his son Mark with Grimshaw Minor Baseball/Hockey from 1981 to 1983, they later moved to Saint John and he coached Michael as he began his venture into sports. He and Susan moved the family home to Berwick; he continued his coaching with Berwick Minor Baseball and Berwick Minor Hockey.
Peter enjoyed the "hands on" of coaching and also recognized the behind the scenes effort required to run an association and to put a team together. Peter volunteered as ice coordinator and later President of Berwick Minor Hockey from 1995 to 1998.
It was with female sport that Peter became a "true" builder. He also discovered the unique skills required to coach females and to his credit he successfully mastered them, likely helped at home as well. Daughter Amanda was blossoming as a young athlete as were many young friends in the area. In 1997, with Colin Best and Marlene Connell, they formed the Kings County Royals Peewee fast-pitch team. With each year the Royals progressed winning a Bantam B Provincial Championship in 1999 and runner-up in Bantam A in 2000. In 2001 and 2002 the Royals again struck gold at the Midget levels.
In the 1996/97 hockey season a delegation of female hockey players went to Wolfville to participate in the first female bantam hockey team in the Valley. In 1998/99 it was time to bring the girls home. Peter and Mike Trinacty formed the first female bantam hockey team in Berwick. Playing against boys' teams and traveling the province for female competition, the team developed rapidly. In March they travelled to Stellarton for the Provincial Championship. They met the Baddeck Bobcats in the final and dropped them 3-1 to clinch the Provincial championship in their first year.
Following Amanda through the age divisions, Peter formed the Valley Thunder female midget hockey team in 2000/01 where they won silver at the provincial championships. He coached at the high school level at Central Kings and helped form the Valley Girls High School Hockey League in 2001. That year they won the right as regional champions to attend the first annual NSSAF provincial female hockey championship. The annual Christmas high school hockey tournament in Berwick is named in his honour.
Not only is Peter known as a builder of youth sport, he was an organizer with his peers. He organized the Youth Centre Annual Golf Tournament which is named after him and many staff floor hockey competitions.
Peter was a competitor but he taught more than competition, he taught sportsmanship, comradery and friendship. Respect, effort, sportsmanship and improvement were always on the top of Peter's list. Winning would come to those who put in the hard work. Peter was a firm but fair coach. When he spoke players listened. Not only did they improve but learned many life lessons on the way. Peter was a role model to all who surrounded him. Co-coach Colin Best summed it up best by saying, "He was a builder of character".
He left us too early that fateful day in December 2004. The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Peter Connell.
Inducted June 2009