Ryan Rai is a local Lake Cowichanite who seems to be everywhere, all the time. Whether it’s serving drinks for local meetings and events, helping with community programs such as the recent bike rodeo, or doing what he loves most, which just happens to be coaching sports, he is involved with this community.
Rai has been playing hockey since he was five, and since he was twelve-years-old he has also refereed the sport. “I played all my minor hockey here,” he says. “I’ve been reffing between Duncan, Fuller Lake, and here.” He says that all the teams he coaches are in minor leagues, “so midget triple A and down.”
Baseball seems to be his second passion. “I started t-ball when I was five, and I’ve been playing ever since.”
For a year or two he played all his minor baseball in Lake Cowichan, and then because there was no team for his age group, he took some time away from the sport and waited until he was able to join a slo-pitch team. He has now been playing slo-pitch for the past three years.
This year, Rai returned to the position of coach for the Lake Cowichan Mosquito team, the Gray Hawks. He says he has been focussing on helping the kids to develop basic skills like hitting, pitching, and a bit of field work, but he also tries to make sure that everyone on the team has fun.
Rai has noticed improvement with all the kids this year. “In all aspects, I think everyone has improved. A big part of that has been help from my assistant coaches, Jim Tardiff, and Tom Peters.”
“Everyone is developing,” he says. “We’re all playing as a team. The biggest thing I’ve had this year is I haven’t had any issues with the kids or the parents or anything. We’re all getting along.” He says that in hockey he tended to notice more issues arise. “With hockey there’s a bit more action to it, I guess . . . the parents tend to get a little more excited.”
However, Rai says he loves both sports and will be returning to refereeing hockey again in September or October. “It gives me something to do on the weekends, gives me a little more cash in my pocket, and I just love doing it.”
Besides coaching and being a referee, Rai also works as a bartender at the arena, is on call at the skate shop, and is currently attending Vancouver Island University taking a Recreation and Sport Management program. He hopes one day to manage a sports arena, but also says he would like to find a job on a cruise ship or at a resort because it would give him the chance to travel.
Rai will be playing in the road hockey tournament taking place on Sunday, June 10, as part of the Lake Days celebrations.