Pakmen Coaching Staff Gets a Boost with Appointment of Amoroso
By DAVID WINER
Good coaches make better players.
Those words have rung true throughout the ages ever since athletes developed a desire to improve, coupled with a zest for knowledge.
Of course, that sparks yet another conversation. When does too much coaching become confusing for the athlete and ends up being a hindrance.
It’s a delicate balance athletic clubs have grappled with since overrated teams began losing unexpectedly and underrated teams triumphed against all odds.
Since Mississauga Pakmen founder, president, and initial head coach Kelly Smith hit a home run by hiring Orest Stanko as the club’s new head coach three years ago, the volleyball club has reached new heights challenging for greater provincial and national glory.
Now, the club is about to add to the coaching mix with the hiring of Michael Amoroso.
Breaking away from the norm that most other clubs subscribe to, the former professional player will serve as a roving instructor, rather than a team head coach, filling in where needed to add another set of eyes and a different sounding voice, while Stanko will continue to oversee the entire program.
“It’s not as complicated as you might think,” explained Stanko, about the possibility of having too many coaches in the players’ ear. “Going forward I will be meeting with all of the coaches to prepare yearly training plans for their respective teams. The plans will obviously be specific for each age group, gender and level of ability. The plan will outline training priorities, including individual team objectives and associated key performance indicators and measures. Both Michael and I will engage with each coach to determine priorities prior to engaging in practice sessions.
“Observations in competitions and tournaments will also help to identify any deficiencies and areas that need to be addressed whether technical skills or team tactics,” added Stanko, stressing, there will be no stepping on the toes of the full-time team coaches. “Any participation or input will be done in a collaborative manner.”
“There will be some coordinating,” agrees Amoroso. “Ultimately my place is where I am needed most by the club. The idea at this point is to work with as many groups as possible, to both help athletes and learn from different coaches. But I’m leaving that aspect to Kelly, as he sees all the moving parts of the club better than anyone.
“As for specific training,” added Amoroso, “every team will have different needs. That will ideally be coordinated with the head coaches in the club. But I think there is a lot of value in running sessions different from those that teams will see on a regular basis — different drills, some different verbiage — ultimately it should make athletes more malleable to new ideas and concepts, and make them more complete players.”
As for the chance of interfering with the team coach’s relationship with his or her players, Amoroso stresses, “That is the last thing anyone wants to (have) happen. We are looking to provide support for the system already put in place by team head coaches. With that in mind, everything we do is for the athletes in Pakmen, and their best interests. I hope to add as much value to their volleyball careers possible, and be a resource for whoever wants it. I look forward to meeting all the coaches and players from the club, and being part of such an incredible family.”
Both Smith and Stanko are excited to have Amoroso joining the Pakmen clan.
“Michael embodies some key attributes that will make him an outstanding coach,” said Stanko of Amoroso’s appointment. “He has played the game at a high level; he is an excellent communicator; he is competitive; and he is an excellent motivator.”
Special words indeed for the former Queen’s Golden Gaels middle blocker, who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Gender Studies and was a member of Canada’s Junior National Team in 2008-09.
“I’m glad to be a part of an awesome club,” said the just turned 27-year-old, who helped coach Mississauga’s VCCE (Volleyball Canada Centre of Excellence) program for the past year, and will continue in that vein next year.
“The idea is to be able to work with a number of teams and levels, both on the girls’ and boys’ side, and to really be involved with all of the club’s players, as opposed to just one small group, or level.
“Kelly and Orest will ultimately point me where they think I can help the most,” added Amoroso. “I’d like to connect with every team in the club at some point, but they have decades of experience and the right vision for the club and athletes, so I have complete trust in their direction.”
While Amoroso had much experience at the instructional level, he has little background as a team head coach, and will not be required to do so in his new position.
“I have worked training athletes for years, so that aspect will not be too much of a shift,” agrees Amoroso. “Every athlete around the world needs something different, so as a coach you always have to be malleable.
“With that in mind, the closest I have come to a consistent face with a team was with the Ontario provincial team this past summer, and that was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. My strength lies in the training aspect of the game — I do not have deep experience on the bench of a club team. I think for that reason as well, there will be a ton of value in being able to spend time on the benches with many different coaches in the club, and to have mentors like Kelly and Orest available for guidance.”
The 6-foot-6 Amoroso, who previously played for the Orkelljunga Volleyball Club in Sweden, the Panathinaikos Athletic Club in Greece and the Chemie Volley Mitteldeutschland in Germany, feels he already has a head start when it comes to coaching in the Pakmen system.
“The players in this club are incredible,” says the Toronto native, who graduated from Dante Alighieri High School before moving on to Queen’s for five years. “(They have) so much genuine love for the game. That’s what keeps me motivated to get better as a coach, and I am looking forward to seeing more of those players. This game grows and changes every year, with new styles, techniques and methods being used all around the world. Every coach has room to keep learning more. As for a style, I do my best to present new ideas, drills and concepts to athletes, and also to create scenarios that encourage them to think outside of the box that they have played in — to really access the many other ways to find success in the same sport.”
Away from the court, Amoroso is an employee of eLTee Consultancy, a professional organization of agents and consultants, dedicated to helping athletes from around the world pursue their professional and international careers in both men’s and women’s volleyball.
“Our busiest period is just about to start as teams start shopping for their next season’s rosters. For even the most elite of athletes coming from the Pakmen club however, a professional career is still a long ways away.”
Upon joining the VCCE program last year, Amoroso said, “I learned from an early age what it meant to play every day to win. For young athletes, it’s extremely important to understand the difference between playing and competing. Internationally, athletes make a clear distinction between playing for fun and working to get better, and this is something I hope to help instill in young athletes.”
“My father was a very talented soccer player growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, competing at the highest level the country had to offer at the time (early to mid-50’s) and always pushed me hard to be the best I could be, while my (Irish) mom worked hard to make sure I kept my priorities in order to get to the level I needed to get to.”
And, as a “talent scout and manager of the athletes,” for eLTee Consultancy, “helping guide them through the process, advocating for them on every level and advising them from a position of recent experience in their shoes,” Amoroso can prove to be a good sounding board for late teens considering their futures after graduating from university.
“Whether young athletes work with me and eLTee Consultancy, or another agency, I’m always available for advice and guidance in this field — my interest remains in the growth of the sport, and helping players achieve their dreams above all else.”
With so many Pakmen dreams having already come true, both indoor and outdoor, provincially and nationally, Amoroso would love to help set the bar of learning and succeeding a couple notches higher.