McLeod presented with OFSAA Leadership in Sport award
There has been perhaps no more deserving or surprised winner of the OFSAA Leadership in School Sport Award than Colin McLeod.
The 56-year-old head of mathematics and long-time basketball coach at Saint Paul Catholic High School was blindsided when he was given the award Thursday as the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AA senior girls basketball championship began at the Niagara Falls school.
“It was totally a surprise,” McLeod said. “Kristin McDonald and Jen Benoit (girls basketball coaches) organized this tournament and they asked me to help out in a small way and convene so they were the ones behind it and kept it a secret.”
McLeod was presented with the award between games by his son, Saint Paul student Jacob McLeod, and school principal Lou Stranges.
“That was a nice moment for me,” he said.
McLeod’s nomination was in the form of a detailed 32-page letter covering all of his accomplishments since joining the school in 1987.
Among the more notable achievements in the package were McLeod’s time as coach — he began the year he arrived and has coached either boys, girls, or both senior teams ever since — as well as his incredible record of never taking a sick day in his entire teaching career.
McLeod was humbled by McDonald and Benoit’s act.
“I sent a note to those two ladies. I see the hard work they’re doing and told them you inspire me,” he said. “It keeps me going towards the end of my career to continue to give back to the community, back to Saint Paul and the basketball programs here, and to the kids who are part of this community.
“I really appreciated it from them but they’re the ones who are doing all the hard work and carrying the torch for Saint Paul now. I’m just trying to do my small part.”
Saint Paul teacher and long-time basketball coach Frank Capretta couldn’t say enough kind things about his friend and colleague.
“He’s not one of the those guys when you read about an award like that and think, ‘Let’s just give it to Colin because we have to give it to somebody,’ Capretta said. “If you listen to the qualities and traits they look for to award that, he fits all of those to a tee.
“He’s a really good coach, but an even better person.”
Capretta said McLeod is beloved in the school.
“He treats everybody with respect, the way he coaches, the way he teaches — he’s a fantastic math teacher — and a great colleague to have on staff,” said Capretta, who joined Saint Paul in 1999 from Monsignor Clancy. “He seems to fit into all different groups.
“He’s loved by all.”
McLeod grew up in New Brunswick, went to university in Nova Scotia, and arrived in Niagara Falls in 1987 when he took a position at Saint Paul as a math teacher.
It didn’t take him long to find his way to the gym.
“My first year of teaching they asked me to help Steve Atkin with senior boys basketball,” McLeod said. “Every year for the last 35 years I’ve been coaching either boys or girls or both.
“It’s been a real gift, just being part of something like this and being part of the community for 35 years and connecting with so many people through basketball.”
McLeod said he particularly appreciates running into former students.
“They still remember their experiences being coached or going to Saint Paul,” he said proudly. “It’s been a real special experience.”
McLeod credits his parents for his demeanour.
“A lot of it comes from the way my mom and dad raised me,” he said. “They had humble beginnings. Just keeping things simple in life. I’ve been here 35 years and my dad had the same job for 40 years. That an old-style approach to life. You don’t see people doing that now as much.
“Faith and trying to represent my faith and the way I treat and deal with others, that’s a big part of it as well.”
McLeod has coached all four of his children at Saint Paul and admits he has thought about retiring once Jacob, now in Grade 12, graduates.
“I’m going to see him through this year at least and see what he does next year and that kind of might shape where I go but I still think I’ve got a few years left in me,” he said.
He also credits his wife, Janet, for her contributions while he was coaching. The couple will celebrate 30 years of marriage this year.
“She’s been a big part of coaching and keeping our family going,” he said. “She didn’t really grow up with sports but she’s really fallen in love with basketball and seeing her kids participate. It’s been a real family affair for us.”
Looking back, McLeod can’t believe where his life has taken him.
“I wasn’t a great basketball player at Moncton High. I really loved sports but I was not great at them,” he said. “I never saw sports as something I was going to do beyond high school and then all of a sudden here I am having coached for 35 years.”
The Patriots dropped a 60-52 decision to Holy Cross of Peterborough this morning to fall to 0-3.
Samantha Dino (24), Keira Federinko (12) and Brooke Lennox (10) paced the Pats.
St. Paul wrapped up their schedule with a 74-28 loss to Frontenac.
Federinko (14) and Lennox (6) led the Patriots in scoring.
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