It’s a family matter at John Paul II

Steve Gazmin and Sam Moncada are not only coaches on the basketball court at Pope John Paul II, they are also parents.

Both of their daughters, Stefanie Gazmin and Anna Moncada, are on the senior girls basketball team, striving for this year’s OFSAA provincial championships. Training began the first week of school.

“Gain speed,” Sam shouts to Anna, who sprints across the court. “You are the slowest.”

Right on cue, Anna begins to pick up her speed.

Anna has been playing with the seniors for three years, and she says being coached by her own father doesn’t mean she can get away easily.

“Sometimes he would be harder on me, but I know it’s for my own good,” says Anna.

Steve says the same thing is happening with his daughter Stefanie, a new recruit from the juniors this year.

“It’s not easy. Sometimes when I correct her, she will think I’m only correcting her, but I’m actually correcting the whole team,” he says. “I was coached by my father, so I know what she’s going through.

“I tried to watch that.”

Their expectations are high. After the Panthers won the 2004 TDCAA league title, the team didn’t earn a chance to compete at OFSAA in the following two years. In 2005, the Panthers made it to the finals but were defeated the following year in the semi-finals because their core player, Angela Sullivan, broke her ankle.

“This year we are ready to go,” says Sam. “We’ve got a core of girls well-trained from last year; and we’ve got the junior girls’ team who won the TDCAA championship last year.

“All these girls, they all know how to play basketball.”

Coach Moncada says with the graduation of last year’s captain Andrea Bobadilla, the club is looking for new leadership. Two potential candidates are Sullivan and Anna.

“They both played since they were in Grade 10. So we are seeing which one can step up and lead the team, which one can take charge,” he says.