WATERLOO REGION (September 20, 2022) – On Saturday, the Coaches Association of Ontario recognized St. David’s Catholic Secondary School teacher-coach Shane Verbiski, as the winner of the Andy Higgins Lifetime Achievement Award.
Verbiski has been teaching within the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) for nearly 30 years, spending the majority of his career at St. David’s where he has coached football, wrestling, ice hockey, track & field, swimming, slo-pitch, and more.
The award is part of an annual week-long celebration of coaches presented by the Coaches Association of Ontario . Each year Hydro One sponsors Excellence Awards honouring coaches who play an integral role in their team, sport and community. Verbiski was one of ten coaches honoured in the 2022 selections.
Wrestling Canada’s high performance director and former WCDSB Principal Chris Woodcroft nominated his former colleague for the award. A section of the nomination Woodcroft submitted read, “Shane is a gifted educator who demonstrates care for his students in every aspect of his life… Shane believes in excellence but not at the expense of full participation for all his athletes. Shane embodies the notion of gratitude and service to all his athletes and his passion for fitness, excellence, learning and fun are the hallmarks of all that he contributes on a daily basis.”
“I am proud that I am part of a wonderful, larger coaching community at St. David’s that give so much of their time and energy in providing students with opportunities to grow through sport,” Verbiski said when asked what this award means to him. “This is something I know is happening throughout the schools in our board with so many playing an important role in making it happen.”
Verbiski also was quick to credit two of his former coaches for inspiring him to coach, “The inspiration came from two of my coaches in high school, Gary Ertel and Bill MacDonnell. They were both genuine good people who cared. They gave tirelessly, and the relationships they fostered throughout their careers was based on their passion for sport and their love of kids. I think most importantly, it was their coaching style that I try to emulate the most over the years. They were knowledgeable, kind and had great perspective in terms of their role as coaches and mentors.”
The torch is definitely being passed by Verbiski as he is now teaching and coaching alongside his former student-athletes. “Shane coached me in basketball in grade 11,” said Heather Pietrobon, program head of physical education at St. David’s. “As a team we learned sportsmanship through skill development and were motivated to always try our best through his positive encouragement. His motto was, ‘on any given day anything is possible’ and this optimism is something I carry forward with the teams I coach today.”
Despite Verbiski receiving a lifetime achievement award for coaching, he is still actively teaching and coaching at St. David’s. “Shane Verbiski has had an immeasurable impact on the St. David community as a coach on the mats, ice, courts and field,” said St. David’s Athletic Director Lisa Lang. “To the students, ‘Coach Verbiski’ is everything. He teaches, supports, encourages and models what our student-athletes need most. Students returning year after year and keeping in touch, is testimony to this. To his colleagues, Shane is someone who leads by example, will drop everything to help and is genuinely concerned for the well-being of everyone.”
Nominations for next year’s coaching excellence awards will be posted on the Coaches Association of Ontario’s website in early 2023.