For 32 years and counting, Agi Mete has been influencing students in the classroom, and on basketball courts and lacrosse fields.
The 53-year-old Welland native started teaching in April 1990 at Notre Dame until the end of that school year and then spent the next 15 years at Lakeshore Catholic. The law, civics, and economics teacher is now in his 17th year of teaching at his alma mater, Notre Dame, where he continues to coach and serve as the Student Council advisor.
At Lakeshore Catholic, the Western economics and Niagara University masters of education graduate coached midget, junior, and senior boys basketball for several years, and launched a boys lacrosse program at the Port Colborne high school. He spent several years coaching senior basketball there with good friend Steve Atkin.
He continued on when he arrived at Notre Dame.
“They already had a pretty successful boys lacrosse program so my first year I started a girls lacrosse program.”
He has continued to run the lacrosse program and has also coached junior and senior girls basketball for the past five or six years.
“Coaching and teaching go hand in hand,” Mete said. “The relationships in the classroom are one thing and I love getting to know kids on an academic level, but, to me, the real relationships start in the after-school hours in those opportunities where you are working with kids in something they are very passionate about. It really is about those special relationships you form with kids when they are participating in a sport they passionately love and will remember doing for the rest of their lives.”
He feels coaching is about much more than just sports.
“It’s trying to teach them life skills as much as possible. You have them in an environment where you can do that. The school day is so structured that it doesn’t allow for that all the time but in a sports environment, especially coaching at the club and school, it offers you an opportunity to get to know kids differently, connect with them and learn a bit about them and who they are.”
In addition to his high school coaching career, Mete has been heavily involved with the Pelham Panthers travel basketball association for the past 14 years, serving as a coach and a member of the organization’s executive. Last week he could be found at the community centre, working out his Grade 8 girls team while following strict COVID-19 protocols.
“Basketball has always been a huge passion for me and when my oldest daughter, Emma, became old enough to start playing, I got started coaching right from her Grade 3 year. I have three daughters and as each one started to play basketball, I started coaching all three teams at once,” he said. “For a couple of years, I was able to finagle a way to get a couple of the girls on the same team, even though their ages were a little bit different.”
It was a highlight for Mete to coach his daughters Emma, Olivia and Alissa.
“I am just glad my daughters enjoyed basketball and lacrosse as much as I did.”
Another major highlight for Mete was seeing the 2012 Notre Dame girls field lacrosse team—which won back-to-back Ontario championships—inducted into the Welland Sport Wall of Fame in 2018.
“That was a special team and to have some of the girls come back to join us for the celebration was fantastic.”
Mete has enjoyed a lot of coaching success in basketball and field lacrosse and is quick to share the credit.
“The other true blessing I have had over my coaching career is that I was always supported with incredible assistant coaches who not only supported me, but most importantly offered support and encouragement for our players.”
Mete’s coaching philosophy is based on two pillars.
“The No. 1 principles are we want to be the most athletic and fit team out there. If we are athletic and fit, that gives us a chance to compete and I have always believed that in any sport,” he said. “In lacrosse, we went against teams that were way more skilled than us and players who had played their whole life but I thought we always competed because we were athletic, we could run and we could play defence. Fitness and athleticism are the equalizers, at least in the sports I have been involved in.”
He has enjoyed building programs at the club and high school level.
“I am pretty proud of the fact, especially at the club level, that we kept our kids together for extended periods of time. They weren’t just one-or two-year players and I got to know them and that was exciting. With high school, it was the same thing.”
Mete played soccer, basketball, track and field and badminton growing up and made it to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships in badminton. He was hoping to play soccer at the post secondary level but tore his ACL in Grade 13.
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