Dave Prpich, a great hockey mind, is one of the most successful and influential coaches in the history of Windsor and Essex County hockey. He was also the voice of high school and collegiate sports in Windsor-Essex for decades.
An accomplished multi-sport athlete in his youth while at Essex District High School, Dave starred for the Red Raiders in football, basketball, track and field, and hockey before attending the University of Windsor. As fine an athlete as he was, though, Prpich most strongly made his mark on the local sports community from behind the bench and – as literally thousands and thousands of local high school athletes over the last four decades can attest – behind the microphone.
Prpich’s high school teaching career presented many opportunities to coach various sports, which he did, but he is best known for his long and decorated association with the game of hockey. As head coach of the Essex 73s Junior “C” Hockey Club during the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Prpich led his team to an All-Ontario Championship while winning numerous Great Lakes Junior “C” titles. He was named Great Lakes Coach of the Year in 1977-78.
Eventually, Prpich’s unique ability to relate to young players attracted the interest of the Windsor Spitfires, with which he went on to spend 18 productive years working in a wide variety of coaching capacities. Perhaps most memorably, Prpich was an integral part of Tom Webster’s staff during the Spitfires’ record-setting 1987-88 run to the OHL Championship and Memorial Cup final. Otherwise, on six different occasions, Prpich served as interim head coach of the hockey club.
Away from the rink, Prpich was the voice of local prep sports. He served for more than 38 years as a public address announcer at local high school football games and countless track and field meets, and he was also heard at University of Windsor football and basketball games and OUA and CIS track championships. In 2008, Prpich was the voice heard over the microphone during the Canadian Olympic Track and Field Trials.
An accomplished organizer, Prpich was President of the Essex Tournament Hockey League and Windsor Intermediate Athletic Association. He also served as a convener for multiple WSSA and SWOSSA track meets.
In several capacities, Prpich’s dedication and commitment to the local sports scene was seemingly endless. It has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by his “A” Award from the University of Windsor (which recognizes his outstanding contribution to Lancer athletics), his Paul Maurice Award from the Windsor Spitfires (recognizing his years of dedication to the hockey club), and his WESPY Legacy Award (for significant contributions to sport in Windsor and Essex County).