Lawrence Park Collegiate has lost one of its former sports leaders.
Kenneth Dirk Schaap died quietly May 10 at his home in Perkinsfield, on Georgian Bay, southwest of Penetanguishene.
The 58-year-old, who graduated from the school in 1976, is heralded as a mentor by many in the football and hockey communities of North Toronto.
He was a community coach for Lawrence Park Panthers after his graduation, worked with North Toronto Hockey, as well as played a small role in recruiting and scouting for the now defunct Toronto Marlboros franchise of the Ontario Hockey League.
Chuck Richardson, president of the Metro Toronto Wildcats Football Club, was one of those players who was impacted by Schaap’s volunteer work.
“If I didn’t go through with football and had my experiences with Ken Schaap I wouldn’t have started up the Lawrence Park Football Alumnae Association in 1995, which brought back the football program,” he said. “I wouldn’t have loved the game, as was brought to me as a kid, or start up the Metro Wildcats.
“I may sound melodramatic, but it’s true.”
Richardson had Schaap as a coach during grades 9 and 10 during the late 1970s and early ’80s. The Panthers would win the TDSSAA championship in 1982, Richardson’s senior year. Those were the years where coaches Jack Parn as well as Fred Lackey also walked the halls of the Chatsworth Drive school.
“It was one of those things where we left Lawrence Park, did our own thing, but we always talked about the huge impact that that guy had on our lives,” Richardson said. “He had an intangible quality that just made us love the guy.
“It’s hard to describe. It comes from our gut, and our heart, and our soul. I hope the kids that I deal with have a fraction of the reverence for me that we had for him.”
Schaap’s younger brother, Don, 55, remembered the dedication his brother put into amateur sports, and always kept an ear open after he moved south of the border 20 years ago.
“His passion was the kids, the local kids, and he did a fabulous job,” Don Schaap told the Town Crier in a phone interview from his home in Raleigh, N.C., May 24.
However, everything the elder Schaap did outside of sports was for his two sons, Matthew, now 20, and Jason, 18.
He left Toronto with his family about eight years ago, and built a home on 12 acres of land in Perkinsfield that had been in the family since the ’40s. The move was also intended to focus energy on son Jason, who has autism.
“They tried to get a lot of therapy in Toronto, and they went up north to the town of Perkinsfield, and Midland and Penetanguishene was a whole lot more welcoming of that,” Don said. “It was great for the whole family.”
The cause of Schaap’s death is not fully known.
“Apparently there was some sort of ventricular fibrillation, something to do with the heart,” Don said. “He wasn’t feeling well, laid down in bed, and my sister-in-law [Ann] went into town for a couple of hours and came back and Ken had passed quietly.
“He died way, way too soon.”
Ken Schaap leaves behind wife Ann, (Mags to her close friends), sons Jason and Matthew, parents Dirk and Sheila, as well as siblings Paul, Don and Cathy.