By Larry Moko
It’s one step away from the end of an era for St. Thomas More Knights badminton coach John Morelli.
Upon completion of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship tournament in Pain Court next month, Morelli will be calling it quits as a high school badminton administrator and instructor.
He’s been involved in the sport at More for the past 18 years.
“That’s correct,” Morelli said when asked if it’s true that he will be stepping away. “I’ve got family commitments. I’m a teacher at St. Thomas More, but I also have three kids in the system. I’d like to focus on them after school. I haven’t kept it a secret … it’s time. I’ve been coaching since 1999.”
Veteran outside coach Kyle Berdan, however, will remain with the team. He’s a former More student – a three-time GHAC badminton qualifier – who has been coaching both the juniors and seniors since 2006.
“It sucks that Mr. Morelli is not going to be here next year,” More’s Ryan Wallace said during Wednesday’s Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference badminton championships at Burlington’s Frank Hayden gym.
“Because of him we’ve accomplished so much. He’s always at practice and cheering us on. He’s an amazing coach.”
A Grade 11 student, Wallace finished second in men’s singles to qualify for the May 4-6 OFSAA tournament. He was the lone Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association entrant to land a berth for the provincial finals.
“I feel I could have played better,” said Wallace who won three of his four matches on the day. “I had some sloppy shots in the final 2-3 match (a 21-15, 21-18 victory over Garth Webb’s Lew), but I’m still content.
“I’m glad that I made it to OFSAA. I’ll just see how it goes there. I won’t be bummed if I lose.”
Wallace struggled briefly in the second set of his final against Lew — going down 16-12.
“Near the end,” Berdan said, “Ryan started using the back of the court like he’s been trained to. He turned it around quite well.
“Ryan works his tail off. He’ll have a fighting chance at OFSAA even though that’s a big step up.”
Other HWCAA qualifiers for the GHAC tournament were: Kyle Martin, More, men’s singles; Aja Zambiasi, Cardinal Newman, ladies’ singles; Fathima Suhana, More, ladies’ singles; Syned Parangan and Lhexen Rabit, St. Jean de Brebeuf; men’s doubles; Arnel Estolas and Gurinder Multani, More, men’s doubles; Christine Ng and Meia Pinero, More, ladies’ doubles; Anna DoCouto and Rosemary Twomey, Brebeuf, ladies’ doubles; Vanessa Hughes and Daniel Kim, St. Mary, mixed doubles; Oliver Hunt and Hannah Vuylstke, Bishop Ryan, mixed doubles.
Morelli says badminton is a terrific sport for high school students.
“Everything about it just screams sportsmanship,” he said. “It’s not how strong you are, it’s how quick you are. It involves so much mental toughness. If you’re not thinking out there, then you’re not placing the shuttle where it needs to go.
“It’s great for cross training. The footwork that we do is beneficial in other sports.”
St. Thomas More has won the last three HWCAA senior team championships.
Source: Marnie Jadon