Teacher started career as coach

[attach]4527[/attach]Morris Sze has been coaching for longer than he’s been teaching but that doesn’t mean he could ever separate the two.

The pursuits go hand in hand for the Earl Haig Secondary School computer studies teacher, who was recognized as the north region’s Coach of the Year at the Town Crier’s 26th annual Athlete of the Year ceremony.

Sze has been coaching for more than 20 years, ever since he mentored a youth volleyball team when he was only 17.

“I had an opportunity to teach a very young team, so I took it,” he said. “The interesting thing is that it was able to give me a career as a teacher.”

He said he always wanted to coach and it was actually a major factor in his decision to become an educator.

“It was a big part of it,” he said. “It was a way for me to give back to the school … I just saw it as part of school life.”

Sze led Earl Haig teams to championship titles this year in girls volleyball and badminton, boys badminton and combined badminton.

Most impressively, he managed to bring the girls volleyball team from one of the worst to first, winning the north title in a close final match against C.W. Jefferys Saints after a mediocre showing last year.

“In 2010, we didn’t make playoffs at all,” he said. “This year we were undefeated and won it all, basically with the same team.”

For Sze, that only made victory all the sweeter.

“It was just amazing to see them grow and believe in themselves after such a letdown from last year,” he said. “To me that’s coaching, it’s not necessarily the metal around your neck.”

He said they managed to improve their standings by practising, being consistent and following the team’s mantra, which is Carpe diem or “seize the day”.

Although Sze no longer plays volleyball due to a leg injury, he has been a fan ever since his mother restricted him from playing hockey as a kid because it was a contact sport.

“I ended up begging my mom to play volleyball,” he said with a laugh.

Sze still plays badminton and used his experience to lead the badminton team of girls doubles to the OFSAA finals this year, where they won bronze.

He said he has high hopes for the team, who only lost two matches all season.

“That team, watch out for them next year,” he said. “I expect they’ll win gold.”