Pat Pilato. SUPPLIED

Pat Pilato is back in a familiar place.

It was recently announced the 26-year-old St. Catharines native will join the St. Francis Phoenix senior basketball team’s coaching staff. The former post secondary player at the University of Victoria and Brock won an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ AA bronze medal as a player at St. Francis along with three Standard tournament titles and two Standard MVP trophies.

Pilato used to work as a server, which resulted in a lot of night and weekend shifts, but he has started a new job as a financial advisor with Freedom 55 Financial in St. Catharines. His new career will allow him to be available to coach after school and on weekends

“I always have had an interest in coaching and I used to love coaching at basketball camps all through the summer when I was in high school,” said the Brock business and political science graduate.

“What I love the most about coaching is being able to have a positive influence on the players, especially younger kids.”

It is a chance for him to pay it forward.

“Growing up, I remember how much I used to look up to my coaches like Pat Sullivan and guys like Brad Rootes and Scott Murray, to name a few,” he said. “The older you get the more you realize how those role models have influenced you as a person and basketball is an amazing vehicle that allows coaches to teach various life skills like team work and leadership indirectly through the sport.”

Pilato feels he has a lot to offer.

“I know I can bring some experience to the table,” he said. “I have been where these guys are and was fortunate enough to move on and play at the next level. Hopefully I can provide some sort of example to players and give them some inspiration and show them that pursuing a college or university athletics is possible if you apply the proper hard work and determination.”

St. Francis head coach Jon Marcheterre is excited to have Pilato on board.

“With Pat Sullivan taking a step back again to focus his energy on his Brock coaching responsibilities, there was a need to bring someone in,” he said. “Jeremy Dela Cruz will continue on as an assistant coach, but it is always nice to have an extra pair of eyes and another voice in practice and on the bench in games.”

Marcheterre was delighted when Pilato reached out to him.

“This is something that really is special about a successful program— seeing former players wanting to come back and help out and repay in a way for the opportunities they enjoyed,” he said. “Both Dela Cruz and Pilato were Saint Francis players.”

Marcheterre knows Pilato will bring a wealth of recent playing experience to the staff.

“When we announced to the players that he was joining, there weren’t any puzzled looks or questions of who he was,” he said. “Our guys know the name, have read it on the OFSAA banners. He is a member of the Phoenix basketball Mount Rushmore along with Tshing Kasamba, Alex Shah, and Abu Kigab and there was definitely an excitement, buzzing through the group.”

Marcheterre is looking forward to Pilato’s involvement.

“It is really important for our current players to see a guy who walked the same halls, played in the same gym, even had some of the same teachers, and reached a level they would like to get to,” he said. “On top of that, he is coming back to where it started for him to give to the next wave of players.

“It is important for the players to have young male role models who they can look up to and see that volunteerism and community work is part of a vision of success.”