When I moved to Yellowknife in 2005, I knew absolutely no one. I didn’t even know Eileen Dent, my first boss in town. All I knew was her voice when I spoke to her on the phone wishing me a safe flight on my way up to become an anchor/reporter with CJCD.

Yes, she is the reason I’m here and I’ll be forever grateful for that. She’s one of the very few people in Yellowknife who’s known me longer than my wife has.

As I became more in tune with the city, I got to know more people, including the gang at Sport North. One of those people was Rob Meckling. Skip, as he was known around the city, was the first point of contact for most media types who got in touch with Sport North because he could talk without a safety net. Ask him a question and he knew the answer without cheat sheets.

So it came as a kick in the gonads when I found out Skip had passed away on April 19. It happened suddenly, I read. It had to have been because there was no indication he was ill.

My first encounter with Skip came in mid-2006 when I started doing sports for CJCD, the good ol’ days with Paul McMullen and I doing the morning show. Eileen cringed several times during our run as the wake-up crew and with good reason. Imagine waking up to Pauly and I clamouring on about soccer and yelling at each other. Typical Arsenal fans (not me, McMullen).

Anyway, Eileen wanted me to go over and introduce myself to everyone at the Sport North offices. Oh, and take some CJCD-branded water bottles over as a gift for everyone. Seemed to do the trick as I spent most of the afternoon there talking about everything. Skip took me into his office and ran down everything on the go at that time in NWT sport.

That’s what made Skip so great — he knew everything that was going on, knew everyone who was doing something good and had contacts like you couldn’t believe. If I needed anything, he said, call him first and he would find out for me. And he was right more often than not.

When I crossed the road to NNSL in 2007, Skip was one of the first people to call and congratulate me. He told me it was going to be different not hearing his voice on the radio being introduced by myself, but he always enjoyed seeing his name in print more (Mike Bryant, then-assignment editor of Yellowknifer at the time and now group publisher of NNSL and still my boss today, chortled at the fact that he was able to poach ‘the sports guy’).

He was born in Montreal, but his family moved to Yellowknife in the early 1970s. He was a graduate of Sir John Franklin High School and came back home following his post-secondary days at Mount Royal College in Alberta. If you ever wondered how he got the nickname Skip, it was because of the way he would ‘skip’ up and down the basketball court when he played. But he was always known as a volleyball guy.

Skip would leave Sport North in 2008 and head south to take a job in Red Deer, but left quite the impact on sport in the NWT. Volleyball was one of his passions and he was head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams that competed at the Canada Summer Games. After leaving Yellowknife, he continued coaching volleyball, working extensively youth and scholastic teams in Alberta, having a hand in several titles won by teams he either coached or assisted.

He would come back home frequently to help youth teams, especially those training for the Arctic Winter Games and Canada Summer Games, and he would always stop and chat to catch up whenever I showed up to grab some photos. He bristled at how I was still around doing sports for the paper, but appreciated the fact that I was still doing it. Skip always told me he was reading and that’s how he knew what was going on.

Skip was the kind of person you wanted involved in sport. He loved coaching, loved teaching, loved being able to get out and show others how to do it. He will be missed by so many, including myself, but he left a wonderful legacy.

Sleep well, Skip.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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