Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison announced today, on behalf of the WHL Board of Governors, that Dean “Scooter” Vrooman, the former play-by-play voice of the Portland Winterhawks, has been named a recipient of the WHL Distinguished Service Award for the 2019-20 WHL season.
The WHL Distinguished Service Award, which was introduced by the WHL in 2004, is presented annually to individuals who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes on behalf of WHL franchises and in doing so have made an extraordinary contribution at the Club and League levels over an extended period. The WHL will present Distinguished Service Awards annually to an individual from both the WHL Western and Eastern Conferences.
Vrooman was honoured by WHL Vice-President of Hockey Richard Doerksen in Portland during a special ceremony prior to Saturday’s game between the Winterhawks and Victoria Royals.
“Having served in many capacities with the Portland Winterhawks organization for 32 years, ‘Scooter’ embodies what the WHL Distinguished Service Award is all about,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “From his role as play-by-play voice of the Winterhawks, to serving an important role in corporate partnerships, ‘Scooter’ has endeared himself to the Portland sports community and has left a last impression on the Winterhawks franchise. He is truly a deserving recipient of the WHL Distinguished Service Award.”
Serving as the play-by-play voice of the Winterhawks for 26 seasons, Vrooman called thousands of games for the club between 1982 and 2008. He called the club’s triumph at the 1983 Memorial Cup on home ice as well as their WHL Championship and Memorial Cup victories in 1998. As hockey gained increased popularity in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Vrooman played a critical role in delivering that message, becoming synonymous with the sport of hockey for Oregonians.
“There is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone like Dean “Scooter” Vrooman receive the recognition he deserves for his decades of great service to the Portland Winterhawks and the WHL,” said Doug Piper, President of the Portland Winterhawks. “The years he spent as the radio voice of the Hawks have left an indelible mark on the history of our franchise. We congratulate Scooter for receiving the Distinguished Service award.”
Vrooman also served in a key community role with the Winterhawks, handling corporate partnerships to ensure the club’s financial stability as well as their long-term success in Portland. He was the de-facto representative for the club at local schools, youth centers, and charity events, helping introduce the sport to thousands of children and adults.
Returning to the Winterhawks from 2012 to 2019, Vrooman extended his years of total service with the club to 32. Though he has since retired from day-to-day service with the Winterhawks, Vrooman remains an integral part of the organization as the primary liaison between the Winterhawks and their alumni, also helping to organize their annual charity golf event.
Previous recipients of the WHL Distinguished Service Award:
Bernie Burtney (Saskatoon Blades – Off-Ice Officials); Gerry Bergen (Prince Albert Raiders – Off-Ice Officials); Dr. Bob Smillie (Kamloops Blazers – Team Physician); Bob Bartlett (Lethbridge Hurricanes – Director, Player Development); Sue Johnson (Portland Winterhawks – Education Advisor); Herman Elfring (Lethbridge Hurricanes – Board Member); Norbert Heinzelmann (Kelowna Rockets – Off-Ice Officials); Bill Sanderson (Victoria Royals – Off-Ice Officials); Bob McGill (Edmonton Oil Kings – Scout); Ralph Zander (Calgary Hitmen – Off-Ice Official); Terry Bonner (Vancouver Giants – Scouting Director); Dr. Mary Smith (Spokane Chiefs – Team Dentist); Dennis Coates (Kamloops Blazers – Volunteer Board Member); Judy Seher (Red Deer Rebels – Billet Coordinator); Balzer, Frank, Tony & John Lanz (Medicine Hat Tigers – Off-Ice Officials); Rose Mary Hartney (Moose Jaw Warriors – Education Advisor); Greg ‘Spike’ Wallace (Kamloops Blazers – Community & Sponsorship Coordinator); Nella Rounsville (Kootenay ICE – Education Advisor); Lorne Frey (Kelowna Rockets – Asst GM/Head Scout); Graham Tuer (Saskatchewan Hockey Association – Volunteer); Jann Boss (Portland Winterhawks – Administration); Ruth “Grams” Pollock (Prince Albert Raiders – Billet Coordinator); Dr. Ian Hill (Regina Pats – Team Doctor); Dr. Alfred Blue (Seattle Thunderbirds – Team Doctor); Doris Rubel (Kamloops Blazers – Billet Coordinator); Colleen MacBean (Swift Current Broncos – Education Advisor); and Bob Ridley (Medicine Hat Tigers – Play-By-Play Announcer)