A coach to rave about

John Kalantzakos wins Runnymede its second coaching award

For coach John Kalantzakos the winning strategy lies in building a family.

This year’s winner of the Town Crier’s Coach of the Year for the West Region, says he’s always thought camaraderie is more important than getting the win.

“Even if I don’t necessarily know the sport, I can coach it because I can build a team,” the Runnymede coach said. “Once you build a team, then the wins are a bonus.”

Already coaching junior and senior boys volleyball and basketball, Kalantzakos had his hands full after picking up coaching duties of the school’s co-ed volleyball, baseball, track and soccer teams. He said he took on many of those sports due to other coaches taking leave, for various reasons, and the students needing someone to fill in that spot.

When he’s not coaching, Kalantzakos is the OFSAA representative serving on the Toronto District School Board district executive, a group that tries to ensure TDSB students can participate in athletics. On top of that, he is also involved at Runnymede with Right to Play, an organization that uses sport to enhance the lives of children in underdeveloped areas — and that program, he says, is headed by last year’s West Region coach of the year winner and fellow Runnymede teacher, Kristina Kotsopoulos.

This is all proof that Kalantzakos enjoys making the connection with students outside of the classroom in an area where they excel. And that strategy has helped quell the urges for junior-versus-senior competitions, he says.

“It’s not a separation between senior and junior,” he said. “The seniors help develop the juniors so when they’re seniors they know they’re going to be leaders and they’re going to be helping.”

Perhaps a testament to his work, Kalantzakos recently had a group of former students come visit him. The members of a co-ed volleyball team he once coached came to tell him they are all still friends and get together to hang out.

“Relationships — that’s what it’s all about,” he says. “Through sport, teaching them leadership and building relationships.”

Kalantzakos has been coaching high school teams since leaving high school himself. Partway through university, he realized teaching and coaching was where he wanted to be. Now, 13 years on, he’s still enjoying it and finding it as rewarding as ever.

“It gives them the opportunity to develop as leaders and develop their character, so you see this growth with the students from when they get started in high school all the way through,” he said. “I think that’s the most rewarding part.”

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By: Shawn Star
Posted: Jun 30 2011 2:56 pm
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto