While Grant Helms’ own hockey playing career may have never extended beyond backyard outdoor rinks, his selfless attitude – evident both by his time as a firefighter and years within the Midland Amateur Hockey League – has helped thousands of kids play and love the game for more than 45 years.
A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Helms was nine years old when he started playing the game on backyard outdoor rinks. When his family moved to Midland in 1962, Helms carried that hockey passion with him, continuing to play until his mid-teenage years.
But after a few years away from the game, Helms found his way back to the sport through his work with the Midland Fire Department in 1973. It was then that the third-year firefighter volunteered to coach youth hockey teams sponsored by the department, starting a commitment to the game of hockey that has lasted nearly five decades.
Name a role within the Midland Amateur Hockey League and chances are Helms has held it. While rising through the fire department ranks – eventually becoming battalion chief – Helms expanded his service within the MAHL. After a few years as an assistant coach, he then took on camp director duties before eventually holding roles like director-at- large, tournament director and eventual registrar.
Since 1988, Helms has also been involved with the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association, serving a variety of roles before attaining his current position as MAHA’s risk manager. He also fulfilled several positions with USA Hockey, including risk manager for Michigan and team leader at USA Hockey camps in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Buffalo, New York and Rochester, New York.
Helm’s outstanding career of service was recognized in 2016, when he was inducted into the Midland County Sports Hall of Fame. It is only fitting that his induction class would include a full hockey team, as Helms was included alongside the 1996-born MAHL Midland NorthStars national champion hockey team.
Despite all his administrative work within the MAHL and MAHA, Helms is perhaps best known – and to this day remembered – for the impact he made to the lives of those who came through those organizations. A lifelong bachelor with no children, Helms continues to call Midland home and views the kids who have come through the MAHL ranks since 1973 as family.