An exciting decade of Cambrian soccer with coach Giuseppe Politi
by Randy Pascal
A tough 1-0 loss to the St Clair Saints at the OCAA (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) women's soccer provincial championships just
over a week ago sounded more than just the final buzzer on another season of soccer at Cambrian College.
No – this final chapter rang much deeper than that.
In fact, the contest marked the end of the era of coach Giuseppe Politi, pulling back from his day to day involvement after spending the past
decade helping to put the Golden Shield on the map, provincially speaking.
At the age of just 35, it is a given that we have not seen the last of the passionate soccer enthusiast.
Truth is, he acknowledged as much as he discussed the road he has travelled in the coaching ranks since he first stepped in to help out while only a
freshman at St Charles College. That 15 year old precocious youth would add another notch in his coaching belt this past September, awarded the
Trailblazer Award by the Coaching Association of Ontario.
Those who know him well have absolutely no trouble vouching for just how tight a fit he is for an award that is aimed to acknowledge the efforts of “an
innovative out of the box thinker, a creative change agent who inspires others to follow.” For as much as the general public might associate his soccer
acumen solely with the rise to prominence of the Cambrian program, the truth is that Politi weaves a very deep web of involvement in the sport.
“I think it was that I bring forward perhaps a wide spectrum of skills,” said the teacher at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School, pondering his
worthiness for an evening of celebration of coaching excellence in Ontario, one which shines the spotlight on but ten individuals across the entire
spectrum of athletic mentorship.
“It wasn't just about results at the high performance level. It's also about growing the game with the LTPD (Long-Term Player Development) model
at the youth level. It's not just competitive, it's about developmental and recreational. And then there's the whole coaching of coaches side of things,
mentoring coaches, providing feedback, providing curriculum, helping them go through licensing. I really enjoy that.”
It doesn't stop there. It is the manner in which he throws himself into the whole area of continuing education within his sport. There are but a very
small handful of individuals in this city, regardless of their sport, that can match the affinity that Politi has for his endless search of knowledge.
“It's probably because I am an educator, I believe in life-long learning,” he said. “Those courses are a good refresher, helps to keep you on your
toes.” For as much as the man is nothing if not intense as he marches the sidelines during any high performance match in which he has a vested interest,
Politi is quick to bring that very same zeal to sharing his wealth of knowledge with others.
“I think that I have a bigger stamp on soccer in Sudbury if I can get my message through to coaches,” he said. “It's like a multiplier effect. If I can
influence these coaches to coach based on the evidence-based way, then I am making a positive impact that way.”
While his very first taste of the addiction to coaching came while still in high school, it was an affiliation with the late Fabio Belli and an
involvement with the Sudbury Panhellenic 1990 girls team, his post secondary playing days not yet completed, that really launched his career.
“I owe a lot to Fabio for really believing in me,” said Politi, reminiscing on his U13 squad that captured a North Region Soccer League (NRSL)
title led by the likes of Kayla O'Link, Emily Rogers, Dayna Corelli, Taylar Dawe and Jenna Schroeder. “People have asked me if I miss
playing, but I think I get enough soccer in my life.”
“There is something about coaching that really connects with me. I might even say that I am a better coach than I was a player. I love coaching.”
That much is evident. Local competitive soccer fans might, very restrictively, see Politi solely for the vocal presence that he is with the Golden
Shield teams, or with his summer teams that match up with top-end talent from southern Ontario. Parents of very young aspiring footballers see an entirely
different side of the man.
“A hallmark of a good coach is knowing their audience,” said Politi. “Having an ability to change hats, to change one's perspective, one's outlook. I am
quite a different coach when I am coaching a results based program at Cambrian, compared to coaching young children at the grass roots level. Some people
see me only in one way.”
“You have to be able to change,” Politi added. “I think that's fun and challenging for me. I also enjoy the fact that I don't have to be on edge all of
the time. I feel a lot of personal pressure when it comes to the high performance environment.”
There is, however, at least one area where there is no yield in the coach. “I think another thing that has led to me lasting is my standards,” he said.
“I don't want to drop standards. I find that sometimes, in the north, in Sudbury, in soccer, we settle. I'm not into that mediocrity thing. For me, it's a
big thing to uphold standards. I would like to think that's part of what has let me be successful.”
“Some of my diction, my choice of words, might be a little bit softer, but I still think I continue to uphold the standards,” Politi added. “I may have
lightened up, a little bit, in terms of how I deliver the message, but I don't want to lose the standard.”
No, he is not the same coach that the Panhellenic girls welcomed aboard in the summer of 2003. “I think I've morphed into someone that is a little more
mature. I've gotten more experience, more educated.”
Coaching, after all, is not just an on-the-side hobby. “If you don't have quality coaches, the sport falls apart,” said Politi. “I would like to say
thank you to all of the coaches who give their time. Time counts for something.” And sadly, a coach's time, within one particular organization, will
typically come to an end.
And so it is for Giuseppe Politi and the Cambrian Golden Shield.