16009 Steve Molaski still lacing ‘em up!

About the author

Claude Scilley is a journalist who spent most of his career in the sports department of the Kingston Whig-Standard, where he began covering high school and intercollegiate sports  – including reporting on athletics at RMC since 1972.

A leading authority on all levels of sport in the Kingston area over the last four decades, Claude has been recognized for his work by the Ice Skating Association of Ontario, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, Ontario University Athletics and Queen’s University. In 2008 he received the K.J. Strachan Award for editorial writing from the Ontario Newspaper Association.

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Steve Molaski still lacing ’em up!

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

In a military career that spans more than 30 years, for Steve Molaski, one of the biggest highlights happened not long ago.

His son, Camron, joined him in Europe during his college spring break, and the two of them went to Germany to play hockey.

“We were short four or five guys,” said Lt.-Col. Molaski, currently posted to the NATO Joint Operational Headquarters in Naples. “There’s not too many hockey players around here. I called my son and said, ‘Hey, come on, you’ve got to play with us. There will be lots of ice time.’

“After coaching him four or five times in minor hockey, it was really wonderful to play with my son in a sanctioned tournament. Just fantastic.”

For Molaski, a 1988 graduate of Royal Military College, the tournament embodied the three things he says are important to him — his family, career and the camaraderie of a team.

“There are a lot of tremendous people I’ve been fortunate to work with,” he said. “Good friends, good leaders, good bosses — fantastic soldiers. I’ve always liked team sports, the camaraderie for me is important … it’s the cornerstone of what we do, how we operate.”

Molaski was one of the pre-eminent university hockey players of his era. He came to RMC after having won a Memorial Cup with the Cornwall Royals, a rookie on a team that also included Scott Arniel, Dale Hawerchuk and Doug Gilmour. Molaski graduated with 205 career points with the Redmen, sixth all-time in the Ontario University Athletics Association to that point.

An Army artillery officer, Molaski, 51, recalls that his mere arrival at RMC was a bit of a fluke.

“I was thinking about becoming a police officer and I was looking at taking criminology at Carleton,” he said, “and a buddy of mine, who I had played minor hockey with, said ‘Did you ever think of joining the military?’ And I said no, I hadn’t.”

The notion, however, had instant appeal for one of the younger children in a Belleville family of 13.

“My father had just retired after 36 years on the CNR,” Molaski said on the telephone on a sunny, 23-degree day in southern Italy — after a night when half a foot of snow fell in Kingston.

“It was a way of putting myself through university that caught my eye, the economics of it. Prior to that I didn’t have much of a military background. I wasn’t in cadets or anything of that nature. I really didn’t have any expectations but I went into it with an open mind, thinking I would see how it went.

“Every year it got better and better. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I got (to RMC). I was surprised to see how many other people were there in the same boat. There were a few who were third or fourth generation military background and they’d always wanted to get in, but for the most part, probably 75 per cent of the people there were looking for something new and challenging.”

After graduating, Molaski owed the Canadian Forces four years service and he spent them in Germany. It was near the end of the Cold War era, so much of the training was about readiness. “It was fun,” he said. While he was there he married Cindy, the Queen’s University nursing student from Barrie he met while in Kingston.

Both his children, Holly, 21, who studies at Queen’s, and Camron, 19, now at Algonquin College, were born in Kingston while Molaski was posted back to RMC as a squadron commander. During that time, he also helped to coach the varsity hockey team.

His overseas postings have taken him to the Baltic Defence College in Estonia, to Kosovo and twice to Afghanistan.

That an elite academic institution would be the destination of a fellow who played two years of major junior hockey was enough of a long shot. For that man subsequently to make a career in the Forces would have perhaps been an even more risky bet.

“After my first four years were up, I was married for three years with a baby on the way,” Molaski said. Times were good so he stuck it out for the next bit. “Then all of a sudden you have to sign your next contract, you’re close to 20 years in and the kids are grown up.

“I just always loved what I’ve been doing. I always enjoyed the training and the work ethic you have to have, the opportunities to take courses and travel, play sports — it just kept me feeling young, like a kid.”

 

Next Issue, Claude will be catching up with 8074 Doug Smith

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