Coach Joe Heaton, second from right, was recognized as Harris Bank Coach of the Month, a recognition bestowed by the Blackhawks organization on a local youth hockey coach who demonstrates outstanding commitment to his program and community.

Coach Joe Heaton, director of the Evanston Youth Hockey Association, was honored at the United Center during a pre-game ceremony on Nov. 10. Mr. Heaton, a.k.a. Coach Joe, was awarded the Harris Bank Coach of the Month Award. The award is bestowed by the Blackhawks organization on a local youth hockey coach who demonstrates outstanding commitment to his program and community.

Various members of the Evanston hockey community nominated Coach Joe for the award. They credit him with the revitalization and development of the Wildkits House League, a program that teaches skating fundamentals and hockey skills to boys and girls of all skill levels ages 5-12.

A real estate appraiser by day, Coach Joe says it is the love of both the game and the kids that keeps him coming back night after night, after more than seven years of coaching in Evanston.

“I have so much fun on the ice with these kids, it doesn’t even feel like work,” he says.

Coach Joe, who grew up playing hockey in Wilmette, credits the Blackhawk’s recent Stanley Cup win for a renewed interest in hockey among kids.

“Our program has grown tremendously in the past few years,” says Coach Joe. “The kids have so much enthusiasm.”

 But it is likely Coach Joe’s own enthusiasm that is contagious among his players.

“If we’re not having fun, it’s not worth it,” he says.

For more information about the EYHA House League visit www.evanstonhockey.com.