Coach Wally Kormylo, who passed away on October 3rd was a legendary figure in the Highland Park hockey community. During his 76-year career, beginning as a player in Canada and then moving to the states at 20 years old as part of a traveling ice show—jumping barrels and performing other tricks on skates—hockey was always his passion. As a coach, he helped dozens of aspiring players become well-known greats. “I worked with Wayne Gretzky up in Canada for two weeks, an hour every day, to work on his skating. My profession was power skating, making hockey players faster,” said Coach in a recent interview.
We all knew Coach Wally at Centennial Ice Arena, where he taught generations of young hockey players in the Falcons Hockey Association, and won more than 20 State Championships. “Everyone was excited,” he said.
Nick Meo, who was a Facilities Manager for the Park District for more than 15 years, remembers Coach very fondly. “I first met Wally Kormylo over 40 years ago when I was first learning the sport. Wally, like my father, was instrumental in my love for the game of hockey. Through the years, he became more than just my coach. He was a mentor, a friend, and most importantly, an inspiration to me and thousands of kids and families in the hockey community. He was a true legend. I went to visit him in the hospital just before he passed and his final words to me were “I will try to make it to practice tomorrow.” Wally was a pioneer in the hockey industry, and he will be missed by all.”
Coach was well known for his inspirational phrase: “Skate Fast. Skate Hard. Have Fun.” We promise to do just that every time we circle the rink at Centennial.