The Ontario Volleyball association is proud to award the 2022 Development Coach of the Year award to Margaret Sawicka of the Titans Crius and Tim Treacy of the Oakville Thunder.
The Development Coach of the Year Award is presented annually to two outstanding coaches (one female, one male) for their history in developing junior athletes/teams within the OVA and for his/her contribution to the development of the sport of volleyball in the province.
When Margaret Sawicka arrived in Canada from Poland, nearly three decades ago, she went to her local YMCA in search of something familiar. A court and a game that she had played professionally overseas, volleyball. It was at one of these games that she met Vito DeGiorgio. While she had some coaching experience in Poland, the opportunity in Canada would not present itself until Vito’s daughter needed a team and he needed someone to help him. A call to his friend and Sawicka’s coaching journey in Canada had begun. Twenty-two years later, dozens of athletes coached, and fresh off leading the U16 Titans Crius in repeating as Provincial Champions and winning the 2022 National Championship, Margaret has made a great impact on the sport of volleyball in Ontario.
This championship defense was not an ordinary one. The Titans are three years removed from their first title. As a U13 team they won the Ontario Championships, and the following year were the top ranked team heading into the spring before the season was cut short. Two long years without top level competition, forced to practice at the beach when the gyms were closed and then indoors wearing masks, Margaret helped lead her team through it. Though Sawicka gives the athletes the credit for their dedication. “I don’t have to tell you, there is a team who is working hard, and they are in the gym when they have to wear masks and the ventilation is close to zero. They really put themselves into it.”
Having some of her former athletes move onto the next level is one of Sawicka’s favourite parts of coaching. “It’s huge achievement, it’s probably more heart whelming than any awards you know,” says Sawicka. “Most of those kids they don’t forget, they don’t forget the club they came from, and they don’t forget the coach who coached them either.” Former players like National Beach Athlete Sophie Bukovec, who have worked their way back to the Titans club, helping coach and participating in community outreach show the full circle of what having a coach like Sawicka can bring.
Margaret believes that one of the biggest things a development coach can do for a youth athlete is being patient and believing in the athlete. “You have many different kids and not every kid who is playing volleyball is extremely athletic,” said Sawicka. “Those who are athletic, everything comes easy and you know you show them one time and as long as they pay a little bit of attention or if they pay huge attention, they go far away. But sometimes kids who are not as athletic, but they have big hearts, so they want it. They also achieved some great goals.”
She has one last word of advice to her athletes. “If you have any open gym you’re going to, camps, different coaches, different approaches, learn and grab as much as you can because sometimes many coaches are coaching the same, just different wording, different showing and it makes huge difference.”
Margaret would like to thank David Pagniello for being a huge mentor to her, Vito DeGiorgio for twisting her arm to start coaching, Shaun Powell for helping her bring technical aspects to the athletes, Noel Faldas for always having extra time for the setters, Dr. Thomas Lam for helping strengthen the team and of course the parents, who’s contributions help the kids get where they need to be.
For a long career in the development of volleyball athletes and for a great season with your team, the OVA would like to thank you, and present you with this year’s award. Congratulations Margaret Sawicka!
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