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!
In speaking with Time Treacy, you can immediately tell that he is as compassionate towards others as he is passionate about the game of volleyball. A former player himself, he played three years at McMaster University placing second at the Ontario Championships and fifth at Nationals. He would have to put his competitive volleyball life on hold near the end of his university days to focus on his career instead.
Skip ahead to a couple years ago and Tim was back in the game, hosting a free intro to volleyball program for young girls at a local school that his daughter could be apart of. When his daughters were at 12U age with nowhere to play, Tim and his wife Nancy Zabukovec contacted Kelly Smith with Pakmen. Repeated emails trying to get a 12U girls team running finally were successful with Tim and Nancy heading the coaching staff.
As their daughters have grown and moved teams, so has Tim and Nancy, starting the Oakville Thunder U15 team. But there are no free rides for their daughters on the team. “You’re not going to get given a spot on the team because you’re our daughter,” they were told. “You’ve got to make this team.”
Tim is adamant that he doesn’t have any grand aspirations for coaching at a high level, he is just giving back to a sport that has given him a lot in his life. The life lessons taught by learning how to ride the peaks and valleys has helped him be successful in a lot of areas of his business, his life, and his family. He even met his wife at a beach tournament. “My hope is in what I do as a coach that I can have a positive impact on young women,” says Tim. “Help them be a little bit more successful, whether it be in school or life or with if they choose to have a family or in their business career, that's really sort of what I'm hoping to do. And you know, it's nice to help them develop some volleyball skills along the way.”
Treacy has some advice for other development coaches. “Make sure you're enjoying it, because if you're not enjoying what you're doing then that's going to come out in how your coaching, how happy you're going to be, how happy your athletes are going to be, how happy the parents are.”
Treacy credits his two high school coaches Jack Strapp and Mo Enright for teaching him to love the game and have fun and practice good sportsmanship. Less about being the best and more about doing things and acting the right way and helped form his coaching ideology.
Lori McKnight, a team manager, and parent at Oakville Thunder believes this ideology has helped their team succeed. “Tim has created a close-knit team of highly committed teenage girls who support each other first, but are also highly competitive,” says McKnight. “Tim is teaching players valuable life lessons about respect, friendship, confidence, and commitment to a team and each other.”
For all the work that you have done to help develop the game in your area OVA thanks you Tim.
Congratulations on the award!
The OVA will be recognizing and honouring individuals who have been making contributions to the growth and development of volleyball through the 2022 OVAtion Awards. Award winners in the Athlete and Service categories will be announced digitally through the Ontario Volleyball website (ontariovolleyball.org) and across OVA social media channels.