Few coaches have had the impact on the Windsor-Essex sport scene like Coach Cusumano. His teams have captured a local best of seven OFSAA medals but Coach Cooz, as he’s commonly known, says the character development of his players is his biggest achievement. Going to weddings of former players, having visits with them after their playing days are over and seeing photographs of their families, that’s what Cooz relishes most of all.
Before he strolled the sidelines as one of the most successful coaches and talent developers in the area, Cooz was schooled at St. Anne’s, St. Alexander, and Brennan before attending the University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor. It was fitting he began his coaching career in 1980 at his alma mater, Brennan, before transitioning to Catholic Central in 1985. No matter the location, his athletes were successful.
Coaching boys and girls, Coach Cooz has been an encouraging voice on the sidelines of many sports – including cross country, track and field, football, and baseball. If one sport could be singled out, however, it would be basketball. Perhaps most telling is that twenty-nine of his players have achieved First-Team All-City status, while on six occasions his former players have been named Mr. Basketball for Windsor.
In terms of team titles and tournament appearances, the list is too long to go through in detail. Most notably, Coach Cooz won more OFSAA medals for boys’ basketball than any coach in Windsor – Essex County with 7 total medals: 3 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronze – all at the AAA level. He says he was blessed with tremendous players but added that being in Windsor forced his teams to elevate their game in order to advance because the WECSSAA competition was tough and well-coached. Those fierce battles helped prepare Cooz’s teams for the provincial tournaments that followed.
Cooz was happy to lend his expertise and administration skills to numerous athletic organizations. He was a convener for WSSAA, WECSSAA, and OFSAA for basketball and soccer – both boys and girls divisions. Cooz is also the founder of Core City Hoops, which provides basketball opportunities, tied in with educational and nutritional programs, for youths in Windsor.
Beyond the accomplishments of his athletes and teams, Cooz was awarded the OFSAA Leadership in Sport Award and the Ken Jaggs Community Award in 2002. He followed that up in 2003 with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Father Armstrong Award last year.
Looking back, Cooz feels blessed to be a mentor for young athletes. His desire to compete and win, he says, made him a successful, but equally important was his ability to connect with his players. It is those connections that sustain him still. It is for this reason, and many others, that the Windsor / Essex Sports Hall of Fame is privileged to announce Peter Cusumano as part of the Class of 2017, the Builder category.