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OVAtion Awards Conclude with 'Diane Wood' Special Achievement Honours

By Ontario Volleyball Association, 08/05/22, 6:15PM EDT


The Diane Wood Special Achievement Award is presented annually to an individual to recognize their 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, an 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!

The OVA is proud to announce the 2022 recipients of the Diane Woods Award.

Howie Grossinger

It was at Pleasant View Junior High School that Howie Grossinger first found the game of volleyball. His first coach and teacher Dan Calinescu introduced him to the game and began him on his volleyball journey.

After High School, Howie would play at University of Toronto for five years as their setter and later captain. During his five years with the team, they won 3 OUAA Championship titles and Howie was recognized twice as an OUAA All-Star. The team also had success at the National level as they won the silver medal in 1991 at the CIAU National Championships. Due to the success and skill of this team, Howie and his 1990-91 teammates were inducted into the U of T Hall of Fame in 2015. On a personal level, Howie was named to Team Canada for the 2001 and 2005 Maccabiah Games, an International Jewish and Israeli Multisport Games that has been dubbed the “Jewish Olympics”.

When his playing days were behind him, Howie moved on to coaching where the teams under his watchful eye were highly successful. He was an Assistant Coach for Team Canada at the 2013 Maccabiah Games. At the club level he would coach with Aurora Storm, Scarborough Titans and Lakeside Volleyball Club leading them all to championship titles. In 2011, his Storm team won the 17U National Championship. In 2016 the Titans won the 16U provincial championships and in 2017 he was back on the National podium leading Lakeside to the 18U National Bronze medal. He was also fortunate enough to coach both of his sons, Cole and Zane. “Coaching my sons throughout their OVA club career was an incredible honour,” said Howie. “To have a front row seat to see their talents develop and see them grow as individuals has been extremely special.”

Grossinger credits the coaches and athletes around him for helping grow his own skills and knowledge as a coach. “I have drawn on the techniques and style of many great volleyball leaders over the years, but Orest Stanko stands out as probably the most influential both when I was a player and approach to coaching,” says Howie.

Howie has been a past recipient of OVA awards as he was the 2016 Mike Bugarski Male Coach of the Year award and an Achievement Award recipient in 2016.

Outside of coaching, Howie has kept very busy in the community as the co-owner of Madawaska Volleyball Camp since 2003. Madawaska Volleyball Camp has been a successful and long-standing contributor in helping young people develop their skills and passion for our great sport. Howie says it has been his honour “to see the role Madawaska has played in bringing together the entire Ontario volleyball community has been wonderful.”

In 2017 Howie and his son Cole were co-owners of the Madawaska MadMen in the inaugural season of the ONE Volleyball Premier League. For Howie, it felt only natural to be a part of something that can show young athletes where their hard work can lead. In 2019, the Madawaska Pro Volleyball family expanded - adding a Women’s Team to their roster in the Premier League. With a great history of providing boys and girls with amazing volleyball experience at camp, it was only natural that Howie acquired a women’s team to the Madawaska Pro Volleyball family.

Howie has been a long-time member and partner of the OVA. In his almost 40 years of experience with the OVA, he has been an athlete, coach, parent spectator and sponsor of the Association and now Director. In 2021, Howie put his previous Board experience with Maccabi Canada and role as President of the Ontario Camps to help further develop the sport of volleyball in Ontario. In just one year since being elected, Howie has already utilized his leadership, culture building, communication, and problem-solving skills at the OVA's Board of Directors table.

“This is an incredible honour, especially having known Diane Wood throughout my years of involvement in the OVA,” said Howie of the award. “Like so many, recognition of this kind is never in your plan but to be seen and recognized for making a positive contribution to our great sport is humbling and much appreciated. I would like to thank the OVA and Awards Committee who felt that I was a worthy recipient. As well, I would like to thank the many families who trusted me to guide their sons and help them develop a passion for our sport.“

Congratulations Howie Grossinger on your well deserved award!

Janet Cairns

Janet Cairns began her volleyball career with a coach in elementary school who introduced her to the sport and fostered her love of the game. Her Grade 8 team would win a school championship, make the local paper, and earn a trip to Wendy’s from her father. Following the season, members of her elementary would form a team for the OVA season to continue to play together. In high school Janet continued playing and earned herself a Leadership Award. It was these formative years that Janet remembers with great fondness. “I remember the days at tournaments, sitting in the hallways in between matches, doing homework and being with my teammates. It was such a simple thing, but it still stands out in my mind when I visit some of those same sights as a coach, parent, and club executive.”

As her competitive playing career ended, Janet joined the Durham Attack Volleyball Club. She has now been with the club for over 23 years in various capacities, including coach, program leads, and held several executive roles. Janet was also active within the OVA administratively as she held the Region 4 President role from 2009 to 2012 where she spearheaded many amazing projects including the Canada-Netherlands Women’s Series which brough all Region 4 Clubs together to help organize, set up, and execute the events to help showcase the women’s national team. The committee delivered a professional event that not only united the volleyball community, but also the community members.

Janet’s administrative work continued when she was elected to the OVA Board of Directors for 4 years in the VP Admin/Secretary role between 2013 to 2017. During her tenure on the Board, Janet took a large role in helping spearhead membership policies and the creation of the Club Information package to ensure all Clubs were following OVA and government policies and allowed for Clubs to create stronger programs.

Janet is very adamant that success as a coach or leader in a volleyball club is only a reflection of the athletes on your team. How they are as athletes, how they continue in the sport as mentors, how they are as people and how they want to keep you in their lives after they leave the team. “Our impact on the athletes is long term. It is important that we know the athlete as a person if we are going to be a successful coach,” explained Janet. “There will be challenges, juggling expectation, and it is important to be open and transparent and come from a place of authenticity. I believe that coaching is a delicate blend of technical knowledge, compassion and care for the athlete and strong communication skills. Athletes and their parents are seeking a full experience and want to grow as an athlete and want to be involved not only in the sport but in a community.”

When describing her experiences throughout her career and where she might have gained influence or knowledge from, she was quick to name one person. “Kristine Drakich has always been a mentor to me…even though she may not be aware of her impact,” said Janet. “Having worked with her on the OVA Board of Directors and admiring her work as a coach, I am struck by here calmness, dedication to the sport of volleyball and understanding of how to make people feel valued. She reminds me constantly as the landscape of volleyball changes that our impact on athletes is for life and has less to do with winning and more to do with making them feel that they matter to us. She once said to me, ‘the athletes will remember what you did for them and when your time is up, they will be at your funeral talking about you and your role in their lives.’ This has stayed with me.”

As a previous winner of the OVA Recognition award and OVA Achievement Award, Janet is no stranger to personal accolades. She did however express surprise and a sense of honour that her activity and participation in the volleyball community was being recognized. “I would like to thank my husband,” said Janet. “It was his idea to start the Durham Attack Women’s program a month after we were married. I often tell people I received a volleyball club for a wedding present. I would also like to thank the many coaches, athletes, parents, and guardians that I have worked with in my tenure with Durham Attack and Region Four. I am blessed to call many of them friends and have learned from all of them. I have always said that a successful sport club is bigger than one person.”

For all she has done at the club level and administratively within the OVA, Janet Cairns is being presented with a 2022 Diane Woods Award. Congratulations Janet!

Bernie Diesbourg

Bernard “Bernie” Diesbourg began playing volleyball in high school and even started his coaching career as a player-coach in his senior year due to lack of coaches. When he completed his university studies, Bernie returned to Essex District High School as a volunteer and later as a coach. He would lead their junior girls’ team from 1993 to 1997, senior girls in 2000 and 2001 winning 5 WECSSA and 2 SWOSSAA Championships and in 2000 led the team to OFSAA Gold. He also coached the senior boys’ team from 1993 to 1996, winning WECSSAA and SWOSSAA Championships and a 5th place finish at OFSSAA.

In 1998 Bernie would start the South County Volleyball Club and over the course of the next 24 years would hold multiple coaching roles as well as being the Club Director and President. He has led his 16U team to bronze at the 2003 Ontario Championships, the 15U team to 4th in 2011 and bronze in 2015 and an Eastern Canada National Championship Silver with the 14U team in 2014.

Bernie sits on the South County Bandits Board of Directors, over-seeing gym bookings, player registrations and volleyball programs. He also assists in the evaluation of players at tryouts for all Bandit teams. Diesbourg has played a pivotal role in developing the game in his area as he has started numerous programs outside of the traveling indoor rep team side. These include adding developmental skills program, Tall Bandits program, Beach Volleyball program, house league programs, summer camps and he also spearheaded the creation of spring teams to improve volleyball in Windsor/Essex County and help expose multisport athletes to the sport of volleyball. From that first team back in 1998 up until 2022, the club has grown to 18 teams and over 170 athletes competing at this past year’s OVA Championships. A testament to the hard work and dedication Bernie has shown to the sport in the Windsor-Essex area.

More recently, Bernie has begun refereeing, passing his Level 1 Local badge in 2018 in which he qualified for high-school and OVA level matches. This past season, he put his skills to the test and was successful in passing the Level 2 Provincial badge, opening up more opportunity to referee at higher levels.

A previous recipient of OVA Awards, Bernie won a 2014 Recognition Award and in 2016 was named an Achievement Award winner. This consistent and impactful presence he has brought to his community and his commitment to continuing growth is why he is being named a 2022 Diane Woods Award winner. Congratulations Bernie!

Susan Buckman

Susan Buckman began playing volleyball at the age of 10. Competing with Kineldiego Volleyball Club (that would eventually become Forest City Volleyball Club) and with her high-school teams at Oakridge High-School in London, Susan would distinguish herself as a player and earn a place on Team Ontario.

Susan would next take her skills to the varsity court in 1985 as she joined a strong Ottawa Gee Gees team. For 5 seasons Susan would help lead the team, becoming captain and earning OUA and CIAU All-Star recognition along the way. Her successes on the court were recognized by the Gee Gees as Susan was named Rookie of the Year in 1985-86, on their OWIAA Championship team, and in the 1988-89 season she was named team MVP as she led the team to an OWIAA Bronze Medal. In the 1990-91 season, Susan began her coaching career as an assistant coach for the Gee Gees.

Following her university playing and coaching career, Susan returned to Forest City Volleyball Club in 1997 where she has helped in many facets of their organization for the past 25 years. As a coach she has been involved in the girls’ program with teams ranging from 11U to 18U as well as their many development programs. In 2014, she led their 15U team to a quarter finals finish at the National Championships. Susan has also been a diligent and important worker on the organizational side of the club as she has been on their board for over 20 years as well as holing roles in administration, registrar, and communications capacities and even designed and has managed the Club website as well as its social media accounts.

Susan has long been noticed as an influential and important person in her volleyball region and is a previous award winner with OVA. She was a recipient of the 2007 Recognition Award and the 2015 OVA Achievement Award.

“My favourite thing about coaching is seeing skills worked on in practice take shape during the games and of course the blessing of being a part of a team,” said Susan, adding that she would like to thank OVA for thinking of her for this award.

Thank you, Susan, for all you do for your volleyball community and congratulations on your award!