For 16 years, the Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards program celebrates the dedication and commitment of exemplary individuals who inspire, innovate and share knowledge of sport with others.
The Awards recognize the importance of leadership, performance and the value of human insight which are all integral to great coaching. Coaches were recognized across Ontario at the 2022 Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards celebration on September 17.
The event marked the start of the eighth annual national Coaches Week, a celebration of the tremendous positive impact coaches have on this nation’s athletes and communities. The week is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by simply saying #ThanksCoach.
The School Sport Coach winners were selected by OFSAA based on their unique contribution to sport through continuous development. The Award does not reflect the accomplishments of a teacher-coach in any one year, but the contributions over a period of years.
The 2022 male recipient of the “Coaching Excellence Award in the School Sport Category is:
GREG WHITE – CWOSSA, Jacob Hespeler Secondary School, Cambridge, ON
Greg White has served on the WCSSAA Board of Directors throughout his tenure as Athletic Director at Jacob Hespeler. He has served on the WCSSAA Track committee that has overseen the school’s track facility which has hosted multiple CWOSSA and OFSAA regional events since its installation in 2012.
In 2018, Greg presented at the OFSAA Coaches clinic to share his process in transforming what was a modest high school when he first started, into one of the elite High School athletic facilities throughout Canada.
Greg has been a member on a number of football committees and he has overseen rule changes and adaptations to gameplay over the span of his career.
Greg has overseen the Football Championship committee for the last seven years which has given Jacob Hespeler the opportunity to host the school’s district championship games for both the senior and junior divisions.
The concept of team building, accountability and relationships is at the heart of Greg’s approach to sport in education. Greg outlines to his players the expectations they are to adhere to in order to be a student-athlete at Jacob Hespeler. He has every player sign a “players code of conduct” that reinforces the importance of behaviour amongst his athletes. This process has proven to be invaluable.
In 2005, Greg recognized that our student-athletes were being underserved as the school lacked adequate strength and fitness opportunities. As the school expanded, Greg took advantage of undeveloped space above the recently built gymnasium, and started building a weight room. It was his goal to provide the athletes and general student population with the opportunity to experience physical education through the lens of athletic training. Presently, the weight room is 9000 square feet, with a fully rubberized floor, built in lifting platforms that houses 7 “Hammer Strength” lifting racks. Adjacent to the floor is a 30 x 5 yard strip of field turf available for the students to use for speed and agility training. He was able to afford the equipment through his efforts in volunteering at the local Bingo Center in Cambridge.
Greg has always been a tremendous mentor to his staff, coaches, as well as colleagues throughout our school board. He has presented at multiple board-wide PD sessions.
His last few PD presentations have been about “Velocity Based Training” and the use of the innovative equipment called Gym Aware. The implementation of this software in our weight training classes has provided students with multiple methods of feedback on their performance as well as providing staff with the latest equipment to ensure they are best prepared to provide a quality experience to their students. Greg has never stopped learning or improving as an educator himself and the introduction of Gym Aware only helped improve his practice as well as set a path for newer teachers to excel in the training spaces.
Greg regularly took the time to meet with members of the department to advise on key areas in education such as pedagogy, and assessment. Greg took pride in ensuring his colleagues felt confident and comfortable when it came to implementing new board and ministry directives.
Greg revolutionized the health and physical education program at Jacob Hespeler. He showed teachers within the region what an athletic department in the public education system could look like. His contributions to the athletic program will benefit thousands of students yearly for decades to come.
During the pandemic, Greg took the initiative to create minimalist daily workouts for his classes as well as for all PE classes at his school. He identified the challenges people would have to be active during isolation, and sought after practical methods to provide opportunities for students to do so. He also strongly values the importance of physical activity to mental health, and created weekly workout plans for the staff at the school to follow to help them remain active on a regular basis while society was limited in its ability to be active.
Since 2006, Greg has organized an annual ‘Powerfit Day’ at Jacob Hespeler that is designed to provide students an opportunity to learn from leaders in the sport and fitness industry. This event began to promote the importance of strength and fitness training for teen athletes as they pursued post-secondary play. Since that time, the event has evolved to promote the benefits of regular physical activity for all youth in improving their physical, mental and emotional health. Each year, Powerfit Day would bring approximately 300-400 students to Jacob Hespeler from schools within the KW region as well as Milton, Guelph and Hamilton.
In addition to coaching football for 31 years, Greg has also coached track and field, basketball, hockey, wrestling, rugby and tennis.
The 2022 female recipient of the “Coaching Excellence Award in the School Sport Category is:
LINDA TRACEY – EOSSAA, Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Kingston, ON
Linda’s coaching style embodies education through school sport. Through her role as an athletic director and a coach, Linda fosters the qualities of fair play, dedication, commitment, and health. While she enjoys coaching her teams to victory, that isn’t the driving force behind her coaching. The ultimate goal for Linda is to help mold kind and active humans.
Linda truly believes that engagement in your school community, especially in high school sport, is important for the social development and mental well-being of students. She encourages students to get involved and works to create barrier-free opportunities wherever possible. To her, being involved in school sport allows students to learn skills, like time management, teamwork, communication, grit, and resilience, that can be used on the court, in the classroom, and in life. She teaches these skills at every practice and during every game. Whether it’s talking a team through a tough loss, having a team work together until they reach a goal in practice, or having a pre-game lunch and pep talk, Linda always finds ways to teach students these transferable skills. Most importantly, Linda teaches her players to develop their heart. To her, heart is the willingness to dig in to achieve in spite of the odds. She teaches athletes, coaches, and colleagues that when you believe, miraculous things can happen.
Linda works tirelessly to recruit and develop coaches. Many new staff are often brought into the coaching fold, as her passion for school sport is impossible to ignore, and her drive to ensure as many teams can run as possible is contagious. In an effort to make coaching more accessible and manageable, Linda spends significant amounts of her own time organizing the nitty gritty (i.e., paperwork, transportation, uniforms, etc.). This allows coaches, new and experienced, to focus on time with their players and developing their own coaching skills.
In addition, Linda has spent many seasons working with new and less experienced coaches. She has co-coached with numerous colleagues as a way of gaining and sharing knowledge, supervised community coaches as a way of building and maintaining high school sport, and mentored junior coaches as they take on the role of Athletic Director.
Furthermore, even though Linda retired this past June, she has already promised to return and assist with school teams in the fall.
Linda’s depth and breadth of knowledge is unmatched and has become an invaluable resource in our building. With well over 32 years of experience, coaches and athletes call upon her know-how for information and advice. She is an exemplary coach and advocate for high school sport.
Linda has spent the last 32 years making people feel accomplished, feel needed, feel a part of something important. Every year, Linda shows great appreciation for everything student-athletes and coaches have contributed and accomplished. Sometimes it’s a morning announcement or a small package of home-baked cookies, other times it’s a crown for winning “Volleyball for Candy” or a timely pep talk in the middle of a staff versus students game. But that feeling of being a part of something important is never more apparent than at the year-end Recognition Celebration, which is thoughtfully organized by Linda.
An accomplished volleyball coach for over 30 years, Linda has devoted her time at the school to soccer, basketball, tennis and curling.
Thank you for the many years of dedication to school sport, Linda!