Burton 40: Stefan KloppIt’s 1991. The scene is the courtyard of a little elementary school in a little tiny town of barely 200 people somewhere in the backwoods of rural British Columbia. A group of pre-teens are farting around with plastic sticks, playing hockey with no boards or even nets. From that little gang of 9, 10, 11 and 12 year-olds would spawn a love for the game and a movement that in adulthood would bring forth a movement called Burton Hockey. Yet, even though these kids shared a close bond growing up in this little school in this wee village of Burton, one of the kids at the forefront was an outsider, a ‘down-the-laker’ even to the other ‘down-the-lakers’.
You see, Stefan Vincent Quintin Klopp is the only Burton Hockey mainstay that can claim the equally-small burg of Fauquier, BC as his home. Growing up having to travel out-of-town anytime he wanted to do anything instilled in him from birth a love of travel. Growing up in a bucolic setting filled with green trees, fresh air and homemade pastries instilled in him a love of the Canadian landscapes he grew up in. And the close-knit bond he formed with his Burton friends gave him a love of camaraderie through hockey, the ultimate Canadian game.
It was Stefan’s love for travelling and exploring the world that nearly removed him from the Burton Hockey scene before it even got going, as he relocated to Vancouver early in the first season. The dot-com bust sent him back home to the Arrow Lakes in 2001, and it was there that Kloppmagic truly reclaimed his rightful place as one of Burton’s main driving forces. It was Stefan that helped keep Burton alive through the dark ages of 2001-02. It was Stefan that purchased ‘burtonhockey.com’, and got statistician Kyle Kusch to move his site there, giving the league a professional edge many formal leagues would kill for. But just as he got it going again in Burton, the travel bug bit him again. This time, Uganda called, and when he returned, it was not to Fauquier and the Arrow Lakes, but to Vancouver. Horrified by the thought of having to abandon the game he helped found and was dying to be a part of, he decided enough was enough. He had saved the game once; he could do it again. Getting together with fellow Burton legends Bernie Koth-Kappus and Joern Hornhardt in August 2005, he started a revolution. A revolution called VRH: Vancouver Roller Hockey, the second league of Burton Hockey.
Once VRH took off, Stefan was finally able to begin playing full seasons on a regular basis and develop the athletic skill he had inside of him that we were waiting to emerge. And emerge it did. Stefan’s performances in VRH (and his yearly one-and-two-offs back in BUSH) have helped him rise from being another steady hand and dependable body to one of Burton Hockey’s elite figures. He is long, lean, and lanky, with big-time reach and speed to match. He is VRH’s all-time leading scorer for good reason. He’s gone from a hockey enthusiast that never got to play anything organised because he lived too far away to a true hockey player, culminating in his epic 2008 season where he pulled off an improbable triple crown (Most Improved Player, Most Outstanding Player and Most Valuable Player). He’s probably Burton’s prime example of a late bloomer. Even when he hasn’t been able to play, his dedication is unmatched; if he’s deliriously sick, he’s still at the rink to organise sessions, take photos and keep stats. I am just the writer and stat guy; the look and feel of the excellent website you are looking at is Stefan’s and Stefan’s alone with hundreds of hours of his own free time put into it. He is one of the cornerstones of the game, one of its all-time leading scorers and one of its most dedicated figures. He is Stefan Klopp, and he is one of the Burton 40.
Awards: Scoring Champion - 2001, 2008; Most Valuable Player - 2008; Most Outstanding Player - 2008 (tie); Most Improved Player - 2008; Most Sportsmanlike Player - 2002; Ironman of the Year - 2008; 1st All-Star - 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008; 2nd All-Star - 2003, 2005; Most Dedicated Team - 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.