Keltos carries on coaching tradition
Frank Keltos has spent his entire 18-year teaching career as a coach.
His motivation for coaching girls and boys basketball, boys baseball and girls slo-pitch was a desire to give back from his days as a high school student-athlete.
“When I was at Collegiate back with Dean Douglas, Walt Szpilewski, Larry Miller, Bob Adams and others, they all did it for us,” the 50-year-old St. Catharines resident said.“That’s what you do if someone did it for you. I am doing it for them.”
The native of Buffalo, N.Y., who moved to Niagara when he was two years old after his father, Andrew, passed away, is primarily known for coaching girls basketball. He is head coach of the dominant Sir Winston Churchill senior girls program and the always successful Niagara Juel squad based out of Pelham.
“I love watching girls move on to play at the university level and that whole evolution: Watching what they were in Grade 9 when they didn’t know what high school athletics were at all and by the time they are in their senior year, they want to win and they are playing for their school,” he said. “They are playing for the Bulldogs and the gold and blue and it’s all about the school spirit.
“In four years, it is amazing what the kids put into competing not just individually, but for their friends, their school and their teammates.”
He also enjoys coaching at the Juel level. If not for the COVID-10 pandemic, he would be in the midst of his third season with the squad.
“I love the competition, I love the kids commitment and I feel that I can offer my knowledge and my experience,” he said. “I want to help them get to the next level be it university, college or just being good people.”
For some of his players, competing at the Juel level is not always about playing at the next level.
“Sometimes it’s about playing a key role in life with others in their jobs and learning how to compete if it’s a job with high stresses or demands,” he said. “Playing at the next level is awesome but it is also demanding. You have to be a special player to make a USPORTS team and play.”
Keltos has also been heavily involved with the St. Catharines CYO Rebels Basketball program and is the current vice-president. He looks after gym bookings, girls travel teams and registration. He also coached teams that included his two daughters, Sam and Brookelyn.
Keltos’ overall basketball coaching philosophy starts and ends with defence.
“I am all about defence first,” he said. “If you ask any of the players who I have ever coached, if you can play defence you can play on my team.”
He feels playing strong defence leads to offence.
“Good defence will get you an easy layup and I try to preach all the time if they can wreak havoc and put pressure on the ball and get turnovers, we will be successful,” he said. “You try to win the turnover battle and when I look at stats as a Juel coach, that is the first thing that I check out.”
During his time at St. Catharines Collegiate, Keltos played every sport imaginable, including football, basketball and rowing.
He won a bronze medal in the senior heavyweight eight at the Schoolboy regatta and was a member of Collegiate’s junior basketball team that went a perfect 32-0 and won the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championship.
“I remember the final. Grantham was hosting it, we were down by 20 and ending up winning by 20 against Orangeville.”
Keltos was also a prolific baseball player and had his number retired by the Niagara/St. Catharines Metros. He ended his career as the leader in hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, runs scored, runs batted in and slugging percentage.
After Collegiate, he spent one year at Laurentian University before realizing it wasn’t something he wanted to continue doing. He returned to Niagara and enrolled in Niagara College. There, he played three years on the men’s basketball team, studied business and landed an apprenticeship as a machinist.
“It wasn’t what I went to school for but it’s not always about the subject you take but the path that leads you somewhere.”
He worked in industry for 12 years as a machinist and then decided to get into teaching when he was 32. A licensed machinist by trade, Keltos attended teachers college at Brock during the day and worked in the evenings for a difficult eight months to set the stage for his second career.
While coaching at a Brock basketball camp with his wife, Sharon, Keltos ran into then Collegiate principal, Bernie Buschmann in a hallway.
“He mentioned there was an opening at his shop at Collegiate which was kind of ironic,” he said. “I shook his hand and I told him I would see him on Monday.”
He started teaching manufacturing technologies (welding, machining, sheet metal, etc.) in Collegiate in the fall of 2002 before moving to Churchill in 2017. He now teaches Grade 9 exploring technology and tech design.
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