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Binz leaves lasting legacy
Sunday mornings, 4 a.m, Vern Binz was there, organizing roller hockey meets.
“It would take two or three people to do the work he did,” said Frankie Lee, co-owner of Bremerton’s Skateland roller rink.
Binz, who died suddenly Dec. 21 at the age of 67, was a longtime volunteer assistant for the Bremerton Hurricanes roller hockey team, which competed at Bremerton Skateland. The early morning regimen was not foreign to Binz, known to provide for whatever was needed that day.
Lee said that’s why it’s going to be difficult to replace a man who dedicated his life to helping others. Binz left behind three children, Billy, Brian and Michelle, and wife, Sandra. He got his start with the Hurricanes because his children loved roller skating and he wanted to share that passion.
“There wasn’t anything he didn’t do,” Lee said. “It went beyond coaching. He gave kids rides to practices or home if they didn’t have one. He was a great coach and loved helping young kids.”
Binz volunteered with the Hurricanes alongside Lee from 1991 to 2010. He ran fundraisers, breakfast gatherings, root beer stands, and was in charge of uniforms for the youth hockey squad. He was a scorekeeper and a mentor. Binz affected hundreds of kids, too many to count for an exact number, Lee said.
“I don’t think the kids realize how much Vern did for them,” he added. “He loved working with kids, and every one of our hockey players learned something from Vern.”
Jim Stevenson, co-owner of Skateland, knew Binz for 20 years and said he could always rely on the cheerful coach to come through for the club.
“He was the backbone for us for a long time,” Stevenson said. “He was always the first one there, and he was really good talking to the parents. He was such a happy-go-lucky coach and always very approachable.”
When it came to coaching styles, Binz was known to be strict but calm. he made sure to keep the team in line, but wouldn’t throw a chair out the window. Binz, who was awarded the National Roller Sports Volunteer Coach of the Year award in 2007, was straight to the point with his athletes.
“He told you the way it was,” Lee said. “If you were doing something wrong, he’d tell you. It wasn’t exactly Bobby Knight; he just made sure people did what they were supposed to do.”
Erin Stevenson, Jim’s daughter, has skated 17 years for the Hurricanes, starting when she was 14 years old. She played alongside Michelle Binz in the ladies division and remembers Vern as a dedicated coach for the biggest roller skating club in the nation. The close-knit relationships at Skateland, she added, kept the club together.
“Vern was a great guy who was strict on discipline and kept us in line,” she said. “We have such a family-oriented rink, with all the friends we make, we end up being a family and sticking together with great people. I’m sure going to miss him.”
When he wasn’t coaching the Hurricanes, Binz volunteered at Holy Trinity Church in Bremerton, where he spent some of his final day working. Binz never wanted to be in the spotlight, he was there to help, Sandra Binz said.
She remembers Vern as a great father, husband and friend to everyone who knew him. Sandra described her late husband as a dedicated man who was active at the church. Shortly before his death, Binz was volunteering at Holy Trinity changing the sign for Christmas mass times.
“If they needed help, he would go and deliver, that was Vern,” she said. “He believed that if he was going to do something, he would do it well.”
Funeral services for Vern Binz will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18 at Holy Trinity Church, 4215 Pine Road NE in Bremerton.