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Rotary Happenings: Rotary on the move, as ECHL hockey referee speak at Sanibel Community House

By Staff | Aug 12, 2015

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary is on the move.

As of July 31st, San-Cap Rotary is meeting at the Sanibel Community House, Sanibel.

Meetings start at 7 a.m. for breakfast-catered by Bailey’s followed by our weekly business and speaker program. Luckily our guest speaker last week, James Johnstone, ECHL Hockey Referee/Linesman, coming from Estero got the word just in the nick of time and managed to find us.

Rotarians were surprised by the youthfulness of our speaker. The fact is, he is definitely younger than most of our speakers and considerably younger than most of our members.

A very recent graduate of Ava Maria University Law School, James had only sat for his bar exam the end of last month. Johnstone is already employed at a Law firm specializing in estate planning in Southwest Florida and will continue, hoping to pass the bar exam soon.

The law will be Johnstone’s profession, but the game of Hockey will continue to play an important part of his life.

He was born into a hockey family. His Dad played professional Hockey in Ontario Canada and definitely all his kids took to the ice.

Jim’s brother plays professional Hockey in Austria; his brother-in-law plays professional Hockey in Switzerland. The entire family has been involved in hockey all their lives including his sister and when in town joins Jim on the ice coaching youth soccer clinics at Germain Arena. Involvement in hockey is a Johnstone family legacy.

Jim, himself, played hockey at FGCU but found his interest in hockey was more directed toward coaching and refereeing. This is his fourth season of coaching the Estero High School Hockey team and loves his involvement with FGCU youth Hockey program and private coaching sessions with up-and-coming youth hockey stars.

Jim told us, “Youth hockey provides the opportunity to not only teach hockey skills to kids between the ages of 6 to 14 but to experience their emerging enthusiasm for the sport, see the kids evolve in their understanding of team play and watch as their families become hockey families.”

Eventually Johnstone found that referring games also brought him gratification and now is in his eighth season as an ECHL linesman. He began his professional officiating career in 2005-06 in the Southern Professional Hockey League and has worked several USA Hockey District Championships.

Coach Johnstone has a passion for the sport of Hockey handed down directly by his father. His ice skills of course, but so much more lessons about working hard, discipline, building relationships, teamwork, and how to direct your energy toward a goal.

Johnstone has learnt his lessons well. His refereeing opportunities have brought him in contact with people all over the country and he was selected to referee the Hockey ALL-STAR Classic in Orlando 2015. Hockey involves a quick skill set, a quick mind, and a fit body.

So, let’s talk about the latter, a fit body.

Jim decided he didn’t have enough on his plate, I guess, and so decided to train for triathlons. Jim the over-achiever, that he is-was showing his car at a car show, got to talking with this guy about the car and somehow got to talking about triathlons and then the discussion turned to what kind of law he wanted to go into estate planning just so happen the guy was not only a fellow triathlon competitor but a lawyer and specialized in estate planning: BADA BING! A job offered.

So as, NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Player said, “Whether you’re trying to learn in hockey or trying to learn in life, I’ve always tried to be observant and tried to learn more, tried to evolve, whether it’s as a hockey player or as a person. With each year, I try to do that.” I think that sums up what James Johnstone is doing going out there following his passions not afraid to work hard take life as it comes but always having a goal in mind and not missing opportunities when they present themselves.”

Lessons his dad taught him and he was smart enough to take hold of.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary now meets at 7 a.m., Friday mornings at the Sanibel Community House, Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.

Guests are always welcomed.