Coaching consumes Ingribelli
John Ingribelli was pumped about his Pelham Panthers girls travel basketball team in early 2019 and then the pandemic hit.
“We were playing super basketball and got moved up to OBLX just before March and all of a sudden the rug gets pulled out from under us,” the 60-year-old St. Catharine resident said.
His excitement began to build again in the fall of 2020 with the hopes of another great season with Pelham but once more the pandemic had other ideas.
“Our team was stacked, we were 10-11 deep and we couldn’t even get it off the ground.”
To say he missed coaching was a post player-sized understatement.
“That first six months was really hard on me because I eat and sleep basketball. I put a lot of time and effort into it behind closed doors in terms of preparing how to get kids better and preparing for games.”
The Sault Ste. Marie native is a coach that travel organizations love to have in their ranks. Before Pelham, he also coached with the St. Catharines Rebels and Niagara Falls Red Raiders.
“He is doing all those teams for Jill and he helped me with two teams last year,” Pelham Panthers president Brian Bleich said. “He is a dedicated volunteer who is out for the players, not for himself.”
The Jill referred to by Bleich is Governor Simcoe phys-ed head Jill Stiefelmeyer. Ingribelli has been coaching with Simcoe’s girls basketball team and this year he will be the head coach with the varsity girls squad and the senior boys team at the St. Catharines high school.
“John has been extremely committed and dedicated to the girls basketball program at Simcoe for the past five years,” Stiefelmeyer said. “He is very focused on skill development and always gets the most out of each girl. He is patient, the girls respect him and always give their best.”
On the boys side, Ingribelli is replacing Shaun Feor, who is now an assistant coach at Niagara College.
“John brings leadership and a wealth of basketball knowledge to both programs,” Stiefelmeyer said.
He was more than willing to do both jobs and it helps that the school is a five-minute walk from his home.
“I do it for the love of the game and I know that they are short-staffed. Because I have been part of the program for so long, I didn’t want to disappoint Jill.”
Ingribelli has been around the Simcoe program since his daughter Mary played for the Redcoats beginning in 2008.
“Mary was here for five years and I was mostly a spectator,” Ingribelli said. “Once Mary graduated and John Dakin left, I stepped in and started working with Jill.”
He loves everything about Simcoe.
“It is a good school. Every school has its flaws but Simcoe was always good with Mary and I have nothing but good things to say about the staff. They are great and their sports programs are amazing. “
He enjoys coaching at both the high school and travel levels.
“I love teaching the kids how to play the game the right away and teaching basketball is my passion. I enjoy it a lot and it is a way to give something back to the community.”
His coaching style has evolved over time.
“A lot has changed and I have had to make a lot of changes through the years with the athletes,” Ingribelli said. “You can’t scream and yell at the kids any more because they are just going to shut down. You have to adapt with the new kids who are coming up. I’m not going to say they live in a bubble but you have to be more hands on with them. Some kids can take a lot of criticism and other kids you have to find that balance.”
Wherever his coaching leads him, it will be a labour of love.
“I just enjoy the game and I grew up around it,” he said. “I was not that good but I worked hard at it.”