Wismer Foundation narrows coaching excellence to 5 finalists

It’s never an easy task and selecting this year’s Wismer Award for High School Excellence was no exception. Five finalist (four actually, one was absent) were introduced Tuesday when the Wismer Foundation’s Selection Committee announced the candidates for the third annual Wismer Award.

The award is made in the memory of John Wismer, a dedicated coach and teacher in Hamilton for more than three decades. The award reflects Wismer’s contributions to student athletes who he encouraged to do the best they could not only in sports but in their lives after school.The award is given annually to a coach in Hamilton’s public and Catholic school systems who makes significant contributions to the overall development of student athletes.

(L-R) Gary Banting; Anthony Herrington; Mark Kovacs; Bob Wynne and Alex Barnett, recipient of the 4th Wismer Academic Excellence Award. Not present in the ceremony is Mike Smith. (Photo: Ron Bernardo)

This year’s finalist are:

GARY BANTING, Waterdown District High School
Banting has coached varsity girls volleyball for 16 years, and boys hockey. His volleyball teams have won seven city championships and five Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations: gold in 2003, 2004, silver in 2005, 2006, and bronze in 2001. He has taken teams to tournaments in Russia, Finland, Cuba the Dominican Republic, and the U.S.

ANTHONY HERRINGTON, Sherwood Secondary School
In his nine years of coaching hockey, Herrington’s teams have won three city championships while making one appearance at the OFSAA championship tournament. Herrington initiated a high school credit for hockey when he started up the Hockey Canada Skills Academy which attracted the attention of the CBC. His coaching has extended beyond and the school arena and he has mentored at the Triple A and Junior A levels in Hamilton.

MARK KOVACS, Cardinal Newman Secondary School
In the 34 years he has coached at the high school level, 30 have been with Newman and in a variety of sports. He has coached volleyball, basketball, and indoor and outdoor soccer. His teams have captured a total of 78 championships in league, tournament and provincial play, including three
OFSAA banners. Kovacs has even given some international flavour to winning when his soccer teams went to Italy and placed first overall in a tournament.

MIKE SMITH, Highland Secondary School
There is no lack of variety in Smith’s coaching diet. During his nine-year career he has been behind the bench or on the sidelines with indoor/outdoor track and field athletes, cross country runners, girls soccer, badminton, volleyball and water polo teams. And the saying that size matters, doesn’t hold true for Smith and Highland. Considered a small school (enrolment about 600), 80 of its athletes have competed at OFSAA, bringing home two medals. Even more impressive is that Smith’s track and field athletes have been city champs three consecutive years and placed second for three other consecutive years.

BOB WYNNE, Ancaster High
Wynne and high school basketball go hand-in-hand and have for 32 years as a non-teacher volunteer coach. His track record includes four city championships, a bronze medal at OFSAA in 1988, eight SOSSA zone championships, and the invitational Silver Fox Tournament championship in 2000. Wynne has also coached basketball at McMaster University for four years.

Other outstanding coaches nominated this year included: Diana Cuncic, St. Thomas More; Stefano Giovanangeli, St. Thomas More; Frank Hayes, Delta; Russ McLeod, Westmount; Kevin Monaco, St. Mary’s; Glenda Smith, Watedown; and Michelle Vesprini, Cathedral.

The selection committee noted that the nominees once again share a common trait: their focus is on the student athlete and that he or she really matters to them and that the coaches care deeply about each one.

Alex poses with his father at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton. Alex Barnett is the recipient of the 4th Wismer Award for Academic Excellence. (Photo: Ron Bernardo)

In addition to revealing the finalists, the Foundation also introduced the fourth winner of the Wismer Award for Academic Excellence. Given each year to a graduating Barton student, this year’s recipient is Alex Barnett. He maintained an academic average of 90.7 percent.

The Wismer Award for High School Coaching Excellence will be presented at the Foundation’s golf tournament on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Carlisle Golf and Country Club.

Information about tickets to the Award Dinner, or to register for the golf event, is available at wismerfoundation.org or by calling Stacy Wismer, (905) 574-3529