Macovik brought out the best
Bill Macovik (1953-2018) will long be remembered in Tillsonburg as a basketball coach and teacher who brought out the best in his athletes and students.
“I was pushed and taught to never give up,” said Jobina D’Aloisio, former Glendale High School athlete, who was sending her thoughts on Macovik to Brian O’Rourke, who will be giving Macovik’s eulogy on Sept. 30.
“To put it plainly, he created a culture of excellence, a dynasty of girls’ basketball in Tillsonburg that no other coach has been able to repeat.”
“He taught us life lessons, lessons that mattered on the court and off the court,” said Stephani Wray. “Work ethic mattered, it was not personal or political. You may not have liked what he said or did, but if you didn’t you had a choice to work harder or give up and quit. Nobody gave up, and neither did he. It would have been the easy way out, and he never made it easy. It was an honour to be part of his team, as much then as it still is now.”
“I guess the biggest things were his ability to teach us to be winners,” said Steph DeSutter. “He taught us what he knew and tried to learn more from us and for us.
“He took us on the ‘Big Stage’ (to bigger city tournaments) from our humble (literal) rural roots and made us believe that we had a shot. Now that I think about it, he was probably the bravest person in the gym. We were too young and naive to really know what game or talent we were facing. Sure we knew that they had better rankings and more headlines in bigger, better newspapers, but we always thought we had a shot... that was probably largely his influence as well. Bill would have known the real odds, he would have known that he was going up against coaches with more wins and accreditations and he still put himself as much as us out there even knowing that at times, he was going to be out-coached, but he did it for all of us, to get the chance to be seen by some university coaches and scouts... to further our love of the game and our education.
“None of us ever really knew how he felt about any of this... if he was sweating it, we never saw it. I’d like to think that he loved it all, and along the way he taught us the biggest lessons. That it’s ‘About the Team’, hard work, grit, determination, and being students of the game.”
“He sacrificed his free time for us to help us improve as athletes,” said rebecca Heeney. “I am more appreciative of him now and the discipline that we learned has helped us adults - particularly in the profession that I practice. For all his toughness, he let his guard down and showed his softness when the season was over.”
“Bill would frequently refer to his players and students by their last names instead of their first names
- it was a ‘badge of honour,’” said Sarah Brazier.
“Those were formative years,” said wray. “And he knew it. He taught us the power of respect and influence. He empowered young women long before it was the popular thing to do. He knew the younger girls looked up at the older girls and that it mattered how we acted both on and off the court. I still cherish the friendships and memories I built with teammates both younger and older.
“He was as much a parent to us as a coach. we respected him, and our parents respected him. He wasn’t there to coddle us; he built skill, he built teammates, he built friends and families, he built CHARACTER. And he did it for the love of the game, and for the love of us. He was part of our families, our basketball family, and most importantly our personal families.”
“In the end, what I have come to realize through my own teaching and coaching opportunities,” said D’Aloisio, “is that the world needs more coaches in it to push young athletes to work hard, to be tough, and never give up. we need more people like Bill building a culture of resilience, incredible work ethic and fearlessness. That was his greatest gift to his athletes and it is our job to pass these lessons on to others.”
“Sixteen years ago a ‘bright light’ was taken from Tillsonburg ’s educational system,” said o’rourke, who will be delivering the eulogy at Macovik’s Celebration of life on Sept. 30, 2 p.m. at The Greens at renton, east of Simcoe on Concession 14.
Macovik, who was married 41 years to Janice (Guscott), with a 28-year-old daughter Alexandra, died August 22 at the age of 65.
He began teaching at Glendale High School in September 1977 after graduating from uwo with Honours Science and phys. ed. In 25 years at Glendale, he taught Grade 11 Biology, Grade 13 Biology, and later Grade 12 Biology as well as senior-grade physical education.
“I guess you could say I was his first introduction to basketball as a coach, because he was my assistant on the last Gryphon team at Glendale,” said o’rourke. “He coached with me one year, and we got along very well. Bill wanted to learn things and he always learned very easily.”
Macovik went on to coach three other high school sports in Tillsonburg - handball, golf, and one season of football - but is perhaps best known as a girls basketball coach. later, he coached girls basketball another 10 years at Simcoe Composite.
“He certainly made his mark with girls basketball teams - they won several oxford-elgin championships, WOSSA... and went to OFSAA.”
Macovik’s senior Gemini girls basketball teams played at three OFSAA AA tournaments, winning two silver medals. He also coached two provincial handball championship teams.
“His coaching was quite remarkable, and to be able to coach four different types of sports as a teacher, to me that is amazing,” said o’rourke, noting that while in high school at park Collegiate in Brantford, Macovik was a star athlete in basketball and football.
“He made western’s football team, then suffered a broken collar bone before the season began and never played again. A lot of people don’t realize that he really was a great athlete, he could play any sport.”
A latecomer to golf, Macovik started playing as a young adult.
“He made himself a good golfer,” said o’rourke. “There was a time when we started playing golf together frequently that I would beat him pretty regularly. Then he got serious. I never stood a chance. He worked to make himself good. He’d show up a minute before tee time, not even take a warmup swing, and hit the ball straight down the fairway. Then I’d hit one and I needed an extra shot - and he enjoyed saying ‘take a Mulligan.’
“He enjoyed sports, he could play any sport. And he was exceptional in many sports - tennis, squash, curling, bocce. In short he was a natural athlete. And as good an athlete that he was, he was a better coach and a great organizer of events.”
Macovik, along with other Glendale staff including Scott Gooding (now at 33 years), was one of the co-organizers of the House System and for more than 20 years encouraged students to participate in a myriad of activities while building school spirit. one of the biggest ‘House’ events was the gymnastics assembly, which usually took place in April.
“The things they did... it was remarkable,” said o’rourke. “They had the music going, the kids were all excited. And from the phys ed classes he’d have kids doing something on the high bar, parallel bar, tumbling. The kids loved it, and the music, when you get the right music... It was an athletic event for all kids. There were kids out there having fun and performing and they really looked forward to it. It was fun.”
other famous house events included duct taping teachers to the gym wall, and a wild Car pull.
“Did you see the time Dave Quarrie lost the contest?” o’rourke laughed. “The reward for losing, he had to kiss the pig! That gym, during the noon hour, was filled. of course the Van wynsberghe kid, might have been Michael, brought this little pig in... and Quarrie was milking it for all it was worth. The kids went nuts.
“There had to be eight or 10 staff members involved in running it (House System) over the different aspects and seasons, but it was all good fun. They were kind of golden years at Glendale, at the time, because the kids really did enjoy the different activities and boy, you had every kid in the school involved one way or another. And it was nice to see.
“The essence or the beauty of extracurricular activities, whether it’s the House System, whether it’s Student Council, the u.N. Club, whether it’s any team that you belong to, if a kid was involved in any of that stuff, teachers would see that student in another perspective other than an academic one, and that is important for teachers’ growth as well. Bill provided a lot of that.”
o’rourke recalled one contest in particular, when teachers would decorate their home room doors.
“Bill, being competitive, had to come up with a big idea. He sent a kid down to the Vice-principal to let them know a minute before she was coming to judge this particular door. They got to the door and looked it - there was this huge Christmas stocking on the door and a student was inside the stocking! So of course, Macovik’s class won the contest. Beautiful! And Bill was a main person in organizing a lot of those events. But to me, that gymnastics assembly was just remarkable.”
o’rourke solicited comments from several former students for use at the Celebration of life ceremony, including DeSutter, D’Aloisio, wray, Heeney, Brazier, and Jill and Jennifer Buchner.
“I said girls, give me a couple words of what they thought of him, maybe a couple sentences. what did I get back? paragraphs. one was a page-and-a-half. They are interesting from the point of view that they all feel he got the best out of them. They all had the underlying comment that he really pushed them to do well. And I think they grew to like it because they played well.
“often your coaching reputation is exaggerated, I don’t think his was. He was a great game coach. He wasn’t afraid to take a chance with certain things, whether it was a half-court press or he put different players in the game, and so on,” said o’rourke.
“The one game that I remember more than any other... I think it was (OFSAA) over in Stratford. They were up against this team (Brockville - OFSAA AA champs in 1994, 1995 and 1996) that had this girl, Stacey Dales, and she was their star. I think she got 30 points against us that night. Stacey Dales went on to university of oklahoma and was (twice) an All-American, plus she played in the WNBA. Then she was one of the gals doing sports on ESPN (currently a reporter on NFL Network)...
“usually a team wins because they have better players than the other team,” o’rourke smiled. “well, Stacey Dales was that kind of a player. She was great, but even then the Gemini had the last shot of the game to win it. It’s just the ball didn’t go down. So you can’t feel bad when it gets to the last second like that. They tried and they tried... all of his teams were that way. They were aggressive. I don’t think he could have gotten any more out of those girls.
“everyone, the players and the coaches, they make a combination that leads to success. And Bill subscribed to the four ps, very well. preparation prevents poor performance.”
‘execution equals success’ was another, noted by Jill and Jennifer Buchner.
Students who took Macovik’s biology class were challenged every day, said o’rourke, and when they went to science-related programs at college or university, they found they were further ahead in biology than most of their colleagues.
“For 25 years he gave to his students and athletes discipline, knowledge and a winning and positive academic attitude.”
Just over month before he died, o’rourke noted that Macovik was still doing what he loved, helping at the M&M Hoops summer basketball camp in Simcoe, which started 18 years ago.
“He still went there and gave it. He had great determination.”
“He was a good guy,” o’rourke summed up.
A Celebration of Life will be held for former Glendale High School teacher and coach Bill Macovik on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2 p.m. at The Greens at Renton in Simcoe.