There are a number of people in the Southwest community who come to mind when you think about dedication to kid's sports. However, at the top of the list was a tireless, selfless Al Crary. Al not only sponsored teams across a spectrum of sports, but sold equipment out of his basement, sharpened skates in his garage, and made sure every team had jerseys, most adorned with a prominent AC.
Al was a Minneapolis native who attended West High School where he played hockey. As a sixteen year old, he helped form the first team in the Southwest area that not only played but won the Minneapolis Park Boards City Championship.In 1945 he helped organize the Linden Hills Athletic Club. Later this club merged with a similar organization at Pershing park to form the Southwest Activities Council (SWAC). When Al moved from Linden Hills area to the Armatage neighborhood, he helped organize the Armatage community sports organization Many of the players he developed went on to play high school, college, and US National/Olympic hockey. Al is a founding member of the US Amateur Hockey Association.
Not only was Al a wonderful sports team organizer and supporter, but he also spent a tremendous number of hours coaching baseball,football, and hockey. Al was a positive role model who preached good sportsmanship,fair play, and always 100% effort. In1965 the Southwest High School Hockey team recognized his contributions by annually giving out the Al Crary Award to the teams Most Valuable Player.
An unassuming man of small stature, Al was most proud of his "billionaire's room", which was located in the downstairs area of his southwest Minneapolis home. The walls were completely covered with team photos of smiling kids in hockey uniforms, all kids who had benefited from Al's commitment, dedication, and hard work over his 58+years of coaching. He called this room his "billionaires room" because when he looked at all the pictures it made him feel like the richest man in the world.
Al passed away in November, 2003 but his legacy will forever be etched in the Southwest communities rich sports history.