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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Sports: NOTL’s Pagnotta is forever pitching in
Teacher Joe Pagnotta loves his role as a sports coach, mentor and organizer. (Dave Van de Laar)
Joe Pagnotta plays coach to Blessed Trinity school’s Thunder soccer team. (Dave Van de Laar)
Teacher Joe Pagnotta loves his role as a sports coach, mentor and organizer. (Dave Van de Laar)

Volunteer coach’s latest ‘job’ was convening Ontario girls high school soccer championships


Joe Pagnotta figures that by the time July comes, he’ll be able to take a bit of a breather. Maybe.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake resident has a lot on his plate most days.

He teaches full-time, is head coach/technical director of the NOTL Soccer Club, coaches the club’s U8 rep team, assists with his two sons’ rep teams in Niagara Falls and is head coach of the girls’ soccer program at Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School in Grimsby.

Have we left anything out?

Last summer he was a member of the mission staff for the Canada Summer Games in Niagara and did the same this past February in PEI for hockey at the Canada Winter Games (the men won gold and women took bronze).

And he coached the NOTL Wolves U11 rep hockey team to a provincial silver medal in Barrie in April.

Oh, and earlier this month he oversaw the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association’s girls AAA soccer championships in Grimsby. And coached his high school team into the quarter-finals.

The provincial tourney was a huge undertaking – “20 schools from across our province, approximately 450 athletes and coaches. It’s a massive event,” he said a few days before competition kicked off.

His Blessed Trinity team made it to the OFSAA tourney last year and when no one else stepped up to bid to host this year’s event, Pagnotta offered.

But rather than just sail into the event as hosts, the undefeated Thunder qualified the old-fashioned way: They won the southern Ontario championship by beating Ancaster a week before the June 8 to 10 provincial finals.

Pagnotta seems to embody the maxim, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

But he’s quick to point out he was one of a team of at least 15 school staff and friends who worked hard to pull the whole OFSAA tournament together.

Having a strong committee of helpers was essential.

“I’m kind of overwhelmed this week, but I’ve had a lot support,” he said in an interview leading up to the tournament.

“As much as you get caught up in the organizing work, there’s still a team I have to coach,” he said.

After last year’s OFSAA experience, the team’s goal was to bring home a medal, Pagnotta said. But going in, the players recognized the competition would be tough.

Pagnotta had his hands full all weekend, he said last week after the tournament wrapped up. “Lots of action,” between coaching and convening.

The Thunder had a solid tournament, losing 1-0 in the quarters to Christ the King from Georgetown, which went on to take the silver medal. Holy Names from Windsor won gold.

So, OFSAA is done, the school year is wrapped up and now Pagnotta can slip into the relaxing rhythm and routine of minor soccer coaching and volunteering.

Anything else? Well, hockey season is just a few months away, but as vice-president of the NOTL Minor Hockey Association (did we forget to mention that?), there’s always something that needs doing.

But come July, he’ll get a bit of a breather. Maybe.


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