Sometimes timing and opportunity converge with fantastic results. That was the case for Linda Micelli, hired as one of the seven pioneer teachers as Thomas of Villanova Catholic Secondary
School opened in 1987, she grew a mighty oak of a volleyball program from what started as a humble acorn.
Leaning on her playing experience playing on some excellent Vincent Massey Secondary School teams from 1976-1981, Micelli started the Villanova volleyball program by selecting 12 novice girls with little experience in the sport. There were no school traditions and customs to guide them. Instead, Micelli encouraged her players to make their own history. In time, Micelli’s volleyball program would be the envy of the province and the satisfaction of building it from the ground-up only adds value to her achievement. Micelli’s goal was simple but lofty – in five years turn the program into OFSAA champions. To be it, you need to see it, thought Micelli. She took her team to tournaments in Michigan and to University of Michigan Wolverine volleyball games so they could see what success looks like, daring them to dream big. The goal, incredibly, was met and Micelli’s teams won OFSAA gold in both their Grade 12 and OAC years (1991 and 1992). Five years later, she guided her charges to another OFSAA title. She’s the only coach at Villanova to lead her teams to OFSAA gold and she’s done it three times.
“I have so many memorable moments with all my teams but the one that stands out is the 1991 first OFSAA gold win, the journey that got us there and what would become the tradition of excellence that followed,” Micelli said. In Micelli’s mind, a builder isn’t afraid of a blank canvas. Micelli says that through hard work, grit, organization, knowledge and preservation an individual can make a great impact and create something of which to be proud.
A glance back at Micelli’s career and she exemplifies the excellence of a builder in so many ways. From being a convenor for elementary school volleyball tournaments to organizing pep rallies, athletic BBQs and fundraisers, Micelli has always been leading the charge to make positive things happen for her school and community teams. In 2002, OFSAA recognized her with the Leadership in Sport Award, given to the top coach in the province. It is this type of leadership that has engaged Micelli in a number of activities that benefit her community. She’s a tireless fund-raiser for the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society and cancer research initiatives. She was also a coordinator for Canadian Red Cross Blood Drives.
“I’m being inducted as a builder of a successful volleyball program,” she reflected. “But I hope my legacy is that I was a ‘builder’ of good people with great character and admirable core values. I’m so proud to see many former players leading such successful lives and being such great role models.”
The Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct a trailblazer at her school and a coach that set her eyes on the mountain top and planted her flag. Congratulations Linda Micelli.