No easy task awaits Wismer Award selection group

If the selection committee for this year’s Wismer Award for High School Coaching Excellence thought paring the nominations down to five finalists was a tough task, they must believe choosing one from this group is nearly impossible.

But pick they must and on Sept. 11 at the Wismer Foundation’s Golf Tournament and Award Presentation Dinner at Carlisle Golf and Country Club their days and nights of anguish will be finalized with the announcement of this year’s selection. From a record 19 nominations for the fourth annual Wismer Award for High School Coaching Excellence the committee has reduced the field to the five finalists.

The award is presented in tribute, and to the memory, of John Wismer, who, during a 33-year career in education, devoted two decades to coaching high school athletes. The award recognizes not only the commitment the recipient makes to student athletes on the playing fields but what he or she does to help make student athletes a more complete person in and out of school and into their adult lives. Wismer is remembered for encouraging student athletes to do the best they could not only in sports but also in their lives after school. The award goes to an active coach in Hamilton’s public and Catholic school systems who demonstrates the qualities Wismer lived by.

And that’s why selecting a recipient is a challenging task, given the impressive credentials of the five finalists: Barton’s Kim Klodt, Cardinal Newman’s Mark Kovacs, Parkside’s Brenda Nelson, St. Thomas More’s Claudio Silvestri, and St.Mary’s Rich Wesolowski.

The selection committee points out that all five are teachers and coaches and long time contributors to the Hamilton high school coaching scene. Each is a dedicated, innovative, and outstanding member of their respective school board and the Hamilton community.

Klodt, a first-time nominee, has been coaching for 34 years in sports which include boys volleyball, basketball, track and field and cross country. The effort has produced 11 city championships, two SOSSA championships, six GHAC championships and 10 OFSAA appearances.

Klodt’s teams have traveled across Ontario becoming unofficial ambassadors for Barton and the city.

Kovacs is not new to the Wismer selection committee,. Twice he has been nominated and twice he been a finalist. Of his 35 years of coaching, 31 have been at Cardinal Newman. His mentoring has been with boys volleyball, basketball, and indoor and outdoor soccer. His impressive credentials include 85 championship teams including league, tournament and provincial play. Most recently – 2006 – Newman was crowned GHAC and HWCAA soccer champions in 2006. Kovac-coached teams have made 10 OFSAA appearances, bringing home nine medals.

He even took one soccer team to Italy where his players placed first overall in a tournament.

Parkside’s Nelson makes the final five after her second nomination. With three decades of coaching in girls basketball, boys volleyball, badminton, softball, tennis, track and field, Nelson’s teams have carted away the hardware. Eleven city basketball championships, including this year’s Midget girls crown, are a testament to her skills. Her senior girls won silver at OFSAA, and three SOSSA championships. In addition to competing provincially, Nelson has take her teams to Hawaii, Cuba, and Florida to compete.

Silvestri makes his debut for the Wismer honour and has 15 years of coaching to earn the attention. He has coached boys junior and senior football teams that have won two city championships Last year, St. Thomas More claimed the senior football championship and were provincial and regional champions in 2006. He has taken teams to the United States to play top calibre football teams, exposing his players to another level of competition as well as cultural differences.

Wesolowski makes his second trip to the final group in his second nomination. The St. Mary’s teacher has nine years of coaching to his credit with senior girls basketball teams. In that time, the Crusaders have registered an impressive seven city championships. Most recently they laid claim to the 2006 title. With eight zone championships, Wesolowski’s teams have won seven gold and two silver at OFSAA, and eight GHAC championships. His teams have also competed in tournaments in Arizona and British Columbia.

Other outstanding coaches nominated this year included: Bob Chernewski (Westdale), Glen Crawford (Barton), Frank Hayes (Delta), Anthony Herrington, (Sherwood), Kevin Monaco (St. Mary’s), Jos Nederveen (St Mary’s), Dino Perr (St Thomas More), John Sharp (Barton), Nathan Siebenga (Hamilton District Christian), Michael Smith (Highland), John Tice (Bishop Tonnos), Michelle Vesprini (Cathedral), Dave Walters (Westdale), and Jim Weatherbee (Saltfleet).

Last year’s Wismer honour went to Gary Banting of Waterdown. Other recipients include George Knill and Antoinette Krusto.

Wismer Foundation’s Selection Committee Chairman John Michaluk said the Committee “is proud and pleased this year’s nominees are once again, an exceptional group of worthy coaches”.

“The most impressive credential, common to the final five, is their focus on the student athlete. The finalists all believe student athletes really matter and they care deeply about them.”

For more information on the Wismer Foundation and this year’s golf tournament please visit the website or call Stacy Wismer at 905 574-3529.