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Diane Wood Special Achievement Recipients Announced

By Ontario Volleyball, 05/25/20, 2:45PM EDT


The OVA is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 Diane Wood Special Achievement Award. Presented to an individual to recognize an outstanding contribution to volleyball at the provincial level for 15 years or more.

The namesake of the award, Diane Wood is the kind of volunteer who coordinated adult competitive leagues (8 divisions and more than 100 teams) from her pre-computer-era kitchen table! Since the late 60’s, Diane has established herself as a 40 year tireless, world-class volunteer, a athlete of 25 years, a National Referee, a Provincial Official’s Chair, a founding member of the Scarborough Solars Volleyball Club in the 70’s, a member of the organizing committee for the first Canadian FIVB beach volleyball event, and an almost 20 year employee at the OVA. Diane began full-time work for the OVA as a program coordinator and retired from her position as Executive Director in 2005. Truly world class!

We are pleased to introduce the following individuals as part of the 2020 class:


Lesley Masters

Lesley Masters has been a long-time contributor to the development of volleyball in the North and the area has reaped the rewards of her leadership and efforts. In the early 1990’s, Barry Mutrie and Diane Wood travelled to Thunder Bay to host a camp with the intent to generate new members within the small community. Both Lesley and her husband attended the camp and left inspired and motivated to grow the game of volleyball in the North. “Diane and Barry were just so inspiring we had to join and become a part of this wonderful family,” recalled Lesley of the inspiring moment. Soon after the camp, the pair were nominated to the Region 1 Executive and began of their Ontario Volleyball Association journey.

Serving on the Executive Committee for a total of 12 years, Lesley served as the Region 1 ADP Chair from 1993 to 1998 and as the Secretary and Treasurer from 1995 to 2005. She was awarded the OVA’s Recognition Award in 1996 and the Achievement Award in 1998. Always expanding her repertoire, in 2005 she took her passion for the sport in a new direction becoming a Local Official.

Sharing her passion for educating, from 1986 to 2011 Lesley could be found coaching junior varsity, varsity, and grade nine teams to multiple city and regional titles and trips to OFSAA. In 2019, when the local high school needed a coach and began asking around the volleyball community Lesley was pleased to again volunteer her services.

Fueled by a love for the game and for providing programming, Lesley melded her family time with her passion, and it was natural to have her daughter Vanessa follow in her footsteps. Now with Vanessa a head coach for the Superior North Volleyball Club’s 16U Girls team, and Lesley the key administrator of the club, both could not see a team without a coach and took on the team together. The duo are still coaching at the high school today and doing their best to ensure no players are left behind.

The Superior North Volleyball Club was founded in 2009 by then Lakehead University coach Chris Green, running for two years before ceasing operations. Fortunately, in 2013, Lesley and Vanessa recognized the void in the community and restarted the club, taking on a 16U girls’ team together. In the first year, only 15 girls tried out as volleyball was not popular in the area but the following year, as interest grew, the club added an 18U team by having the girls who played the previous year play up an age division to accommodate the group. From there, the power of positive reviews caught on club continued to grow at a rapid pace. In 2015, the club added a 14U program, mostly with athletes who had never played the game. The next two seasons saw the addition of a 12U age group and two competitive 16U teams as the skill level of athletes continued to grow. With the fire stoked in the community, teams began competing in the Manitoba championships, a more cost-efficient and travel time appropriate reality for northers teams. Lesley and Vanessa continued to coach together until 2018 when the club grew so much that Lesley left coaching to focus solely on the club’s administration.

Described as a very exciting year for the Superior North Volleyball Club, 2018 continued to expand with the addition of the boys’ program at both the 16U and 18U age groups. Lesley was also instrumental in the addition of developmental programs for both the male and female divisions because she did not want these athletes to be turned away if a player failed to make the competitive teams. The developmental programs allowed the athletes to improve their skills so they could make the competitive team the following year. In 2019, the club once again expanded, this time adding a co-ed 10U age division. The other key achievement for the club was their 18U girls competing in the Ontario Championships as SNVC for the first time as SNVC was now financially sound and able to support the costs for the group, a notable accomplishment due to the flights required to participate in Southern Ontario. Currently, SNVC has over 150 registered athletes and an executive has been formed to assist Lesley with the administrative duties.

Lesley has been defined as the heart and soul of the club, often bouncing from one practice to another, delivering clothing or equipment, always willing to travel and help a team in need of a coach, and overseeing all aspects of the club. With all her involvement in volleyball, she has encouraged many athletes to continue with the sport with many inheriting her passion for volleyball.

This past spring, the OVA Region 1 identification camps saw many of her protégé’s participate in the process. Participation at the club level isn’t the only area where Lesley’s influences can be found as the growth of Lakehead University’s volleyball camps are growing substantially due to the number of athletes participating in the sport, largely due to Lesley’s prowess at growing the game and sharing her passion for volleyball with her community.

Throughout the volleyball community in Thunder Bay, all the athletes and parents know Lesley and appreciate all the hard work and dedication she has incorporated into the sport. Thank you for your passion and love for the sport and congratulations Lesley on your Diane Wood Special Achievement Award!

Corinne Williams

Corinne Williams

Corinne Williams has been involved with coaching, developing, and promoting the sport of volleyball for the past 28 years. She began cutting her coaching teeth in 1992 with the Waterloo Tigers as head coach, working with athletes aged 14-18 years old, and successfully preparing them for competitions within the OVA and the United States. Corinne continues to coach the 17U girls purple team, is a member of the Executive Committee with the KW Predators. She has coached her teams to four-time Provincial Champions.

Moving through the ranks quickly, Corrine started coaching with High-Performance athletes in 1994 where she was the Team Ontario Women’s Assistant Coach. Over the three-year cycle, she assisted in the selection and development of the athletes for Team Ontario and acted as team manager for competitions outside of Canada, more specifically, tours of both Cuba and Mexico. The Ontario girls team finished fourth at the Canada Summer Games in 1997 in Brandon, Manitoba. In 2014, Corinne returned to the Team Ontario fold, this time as the Head Coach and is currently a mentor coach for the Regional Team program.

Parleying both her Team Ontario experience, and her time as a varsity level player, Corinne has also coached at the Usport level for the past 24 years. Starting in 1996, she assumed the Head Coaching position at the University of Waterloo, her alma matter, where she developed the philosophy and direction for the women’s volleyball program for competition within the OUA. While there she was also responsible for the recruitment of prospective athletes for the program and organized fundraising events for the team. After four years at Waterloo, Corinne transitioned to the Assistant Coach position at the University of Guelph. While in this role, the 2004 women’s volleyball team went on to earned an OUA silver medal. Returning to her roots, Corinne is currently the Assistant Coach for the University of Waterloo and has been with the program for three years. In 2019, the women’s volleyball team earned a bronze medal at the OUA championship.

Aside from coaching, Corinne is an active volunteer in the community promoting several sports. In 2013 and 2014, she lent her knowledge as a FIVB statistician for the World Volleyball League Matches in Mississauga, before assisting the following year with the Pan Am Games in Toronto as the Volleyball Venue Results Manager. In 2017, she joined the Sports Crew for the Invictus Games in Toronto for both the Sitting Volleyball and Wheelchair Basketball programs. Corinne’s largest volunteer mission to date was becoming part of the 2019 Mission Staff for Team Ontario in Red Deer, Alberta for the Canada Winter Games.

Thank you for all your hard work. Congratulations Corinne!

Paul Panagiotou

Paul Panagiotou has been involved with volleyball since he was introduced to the game by his stepfather, Don Edwards, when he was 12 years old. In 1981, Paul began playing for the Ekcoe Central Public School Eagles before moving on to play at Glencoe District High School in 1984. While in high school he met and played under the direction of Karl Vinke who would become a major influencer in his life and who taught him to love the game.

During his years of playing, Paul trained and played with the Glencoe men’s volleyball team for nine years in the Southwest and Region 3 league out of Saunders Secondary School in London. Finally, at the end of his career as a competitive athlete, he earned a spot on the Brock University Badgers men’s team in 1998.

Paul coached his first team in 1987, when he went back to his public school to coach the girls’ team in Glencoe, Ontario before continuing on at the Thorold District High School and West Park High School girls’ teams in St. Catharines in 1990. After coaching the girls for a year, he moved on to coaching both the boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams at Sydenham Public School in Kingston for the next two years.

In 1994 Paul found his current home base and coaches elementary school teams at Grand Valley, Primrose Elementary, Parkinson Centennial and East Garafraxa Public Schools. He has coached every year but two, making it 24 years of coaching elementary school volleyball, equally dividing his time coaching boys and girls’ teams.  

Looking to expand his coaching knowledge, Paul took his talents to the club level and in 1995 joined the Primrose Volleyball Club as an assistant coach. Eventually becoming the President and Coaching Chair, he also coached at least two age levels a year and one-year coached three teams with his wife. In 2006, he took a hiatus before re-joining the club three years later under a new club identity the ACTS Elites Volleyball Club. He coach the 16U and 18U Girls’ teams until 2012 when his son began to develop an interest in playing volleyball and joined the Kitchener-Waterloo Predators. Happy to help, Paul went on to be the assistant coach in the Mini-Preds Program with Stephen Green. As Paul’s son grew, they both moved to the Storm Volleyball Club where he coached the 13U and 14U boys’ teams while his son played. Currently, Paul manages the 14U-17U Boys’ teams.

Not one to sit idle, Paul has also been involved with coaching High-Performance athletes through the regional and provincial levels. Starting in 1998, Paul was the assistant coach for the gold medal winning Region 5 boy’s team at the Ontario Summer Games in Guelph, before assisting with the silver medal winning Region 5 girl’s teams in 2000 and 2002 at the Ontario Summer and Ontario Regional games respectively.

In 2005, Paul co-coached the Region 5 Midget girls’ team with Bruce Stafford and Dan Lethbridge and described the year as the “most fun coaching ever – great staff and great kids.” Proud of seeing his pupils progress, he has coaches’ athletes who went on to play for regional and provincial teams, NCAA, CCAA, OUA teams and seeing two athletes achieve the top accolade of playing for Team Canada.

Behind the desk, Paul’s administrative role has seen him involved with the Region 5 Executive Committee from 2001-2005 as the Coaching Chair, ADP Chair, and serving as Vice President for three years. In 2006, he was elected as the Vice President of Operations and a year later became the Vice-President of Indoor Competitions. Currently, he acts as a Learning Facilitator and Coach Developer for Ontario Volleyball and has facilitated approximately 20 level one or development coaching clinics across the province. Paul has had an incredible impact on coaches, helping approximately 200 coaches develop who in turn impact many athletes around Ontario. In 2018, Paul developed a passion for Beach Volleyball and became an Advanced Development Beach Volleyball Coach.

Paul was previously awarded the OVA Recognition Award in 2002 and the OVA Achievement Award in 2007. Thank you for your passion, knowledge, and dedication to the sport. Congratulations on being the recipient of the Diane Wood Special Achievement Award. Great job Paul!