As a young hockey player, Jack Costello played junior hockey at St. Michael’s College in Toronto, Ont. before moving up to the senior ranks and joining the Windsor Bulldogs for six seasons. He played forward when they won the 1963 Allan Cup, and competed in Russia and Europe later that year.
By 1967 he’d established a men’s hockey team at Windsor’s St Clair College, serving as both head coach and assistant athletic director and earning five OCAA (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) championships. It was then that he and athletic director Alex Hoffman were approached with the idea of creating a national collegiate sports organization. After taking part in initial meetings held in June of 1972, he became the CCAA’s first OCAA representative in 1973 as well as its first hockey convenor, playing a key role in the administration and development of sport at the national level.
As a founding member and convenor of OCAA men’s hockey, Costello took a leadership role in establishing hockey at the national level. He led negotiations and obtained official recognition from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, establishing common playing regulations, player eligibility and transfers rules, dispute procedures, conference participation, and requirements for qualified officials. Once established, the sport served as a template for other CCAA national championships and provided leverage for additional funding from Sport Canada.
He served as the CCAA hockey convenor and OCAA representative for five years, attending many of the early CCAA national championship tournaments. He also played a role in promoting other sports at the national level, spearheading research that identified potential national championship sports and presenting the results to Sport Canada in order to obtain financial assistance and support.
He went on to become St Clair’s athletic director for 10 years before retiring in 1997. In 2003 he was inducted into the OCAA Hall of Fame as an honoured coach of the St Clair men's hockey team.
The founding of the CCAA, says Costello, was “a result of the dedication and commitment of all those involved. There was a sense of camaraderie, and a shared respect for the different parts of Canada.”
“The CCAA national championships not only promoted very competitive and entertaining matches, it also gave each host the opportunity to share the culture and customs of their respective regions. I still remember the sing-alongs in Cape Breton, and sampling fresh maple syrup in the woods of St Georges de Beauce.”
Another memorable moment was St Clair winning the 1976 CCAA men’s hockey title. Through it all, says Costello, “it was sportsmanship and fair play that prevailed,” two principles that remain key values to the CCAA.