When news spread of Joe Henstock’s passing in January, the Hockey ACT office was inundated with calls from the sport’s community.
The calls came from across Australia.
An outsider to the sport may ask, ‘was he a star player or a well-known coach?’
He was more than a coach and star player combined.
Joe Henstock was, in many respects, the heart and soul of the sport in Canberra. He was a volunteer without peer. It’s hard to comprehend how many hours he contributed to hockey.
It will take more than a handful of people to fill the void created by his passing.
His involvement in the sport started when his wife Joan played for Ainslie in 1990. A year later, he was on the Indoor Committee.
Three years later, Joan and Joe moved to the Tuggeranong Vikings, a move that would change the fortunes of the Club.
Apart from fulfilling roles ranging from President, Vice President, Women’s Registrar, Vice President of Operations, coaching junior and senior grades and Team Manager, Joe campaigned for the Vikings to be promoted to the first-grade competition.
By 2012, the Vikings had won the club championship.
‘Papa Joe’, as he was affectionately known, was a force of nature.
His contribution to the sport wasn’t confined to the Vikings.
He spent 30 years on the Indoor Committee, 16 as Chair. He was a member of the Umpiring and Technical Committee for 26 years, five as Chair, and he umpired for 28 seasons across all grades.
Joe was a technical official at the inaugural Indoor Hockey World Cup.
He served as a member of the Australian Indoor Commission.
When he wasn’t administering, he was coaching the women’s masters teams at the National Championships. He managed ACT representative teams for two decades and spent two seasons as the Canberra Lakers Manager.
In honour of his contribution, the ACT Women’s Masters renamed their 2017 Indoor Tournament the Henstock Indoor Carnival.
Joe was awarded Life Membership of the Tuggeranong Vikings Hockey Club, the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, the ACT Volunteer of the Year in 2014, and he was named Hockey Administrator of the Year five times.
He also received Life Membership of Hockey ACT in 1999 before being bestowed Life Membership of Hockey Australia in 2022.
His impact on the sport has been enormous.
At the under-18 Indoor Nationals, which were taking place at the time of his passing, games were halted in recognition of his contribution to the sport. Players donned black armbands in his honour.
Hockey ACT CEO Rob Sheekey said, “It’s safe to say that it’s hard to imagine many individuals in the future making such a large contribution to a sport.”
Without doubt, hockey in Canberra wouldn’t be the sport it is today had it not been for the efforts of this one man.