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“It’s been great”, Mountaineers men’s basketball coach is enjoying his time at Mohawk

Basketball has always been a part of Jamie Girolametto’s life. From playing the sport at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School to playing for the Marauders at McMaster, where he won the OUAA Championship three times, it has always been his passion.

But it wasn’t until he started coaching that Girolametto found his true calling. After graduating from Mac, Girolametto’s friends approached him about coaching their old high school team. He accepted and the rest is history.

He became a full-time teacher, still coaching his high school team as well as rep youth teams. Girolametto eventually ended up at Redeemer University, where he coached the Royals from 2012-2023.

He finished with a 98-80 record, leading them to 11 playoff wins and winning the OCAA Coach of the Year award for the 2017-18 season.

Girolametto explained that he likes coaching because it allows him to combine his skills in teaching with his love of the game.

“I quickly enjoyed it more than playing,” Girolametto said. “And I love playing, I played all my life growing up, but [the] teaching part of the game is huge, right? You get young men or students to start seeing things a little bit differently and you see the improvement in their kind of basketball IQ.”

Girolametto also mentioned that transitioning from playing to coaching is natural because even as a player’s physical ability declines, their knowledge of the game remains.

“Especially as you get older and you can’t do the things physically that you used to be able to do,” Girolametto said. “Well, your love and passion can still come through in the thinking part of it.”

Mountaineer Cale Calura said that he has enjoyed the challenge of transitioning to Girolametto’s coaching style.

“Our coach last year, Brian Jonker, he had his way of seeing things and playing the game,” Calura said. “And it’s been a lot of fun trying to take the things that I was taught from Jonker and applying it to where we can utilize it in games with Jamie. I think Jamie’s done a fantastic job with the team this year and I have zero complaints about how he’s been, and he’s done a great job.”

Jamie Girolametto smiling.
Girolametto says that he thinks the OCAA West is the “toughest, deepest conference in all of Canada for men’s basketball.” The Mountaineers finished third in the division this season.

Girolametto said his experience at the college has been very positive.

“It’s been great,” Girolametto said. “What I see in the athletic department, the vision of the athletic department, what [athletic director] Matt Ferreira has done, and how the athletics and the school just in general is progressing is amazing. So my experience here has been awesome.”

Matthew Ferreira has served as the athletics director for Mohawk since 2019 and has overseen many changes and upgrades to the athletics department.

“Some things are very visible, the new logo and rebrands,” Girolametto said.

“You know, a lot of the upgrades in the gym have been great,” he continued. “But I think he restructured the department when he first came, so now he’s put the teams that are in position or that are still playing in the league in a position where they can challenge, and so scholarship funding is… we’re not the top school in the league, but we’re definitely not at the bottom. We’re very healthy in terms of what we can offer in terms of scholarships.”

Girolametto described the success that different programs have achieved since Ferreira took the job, like the curling team winning a CCAA bronze medal last year and the women’s softball team finishing in the top four in the 2023 OCAA standings.

But he singled out the academic and mental health support for the students as what he views as the most impressive improvement.

“The resources that they are putting into the student-athletes themselves, I think, is the best thing. If you have somebody in athletics who is an academic counsellor for the athletes, that’s amazing,” Girolametto said.

“Because those athletes give up so much of their time, you know,” he continued. “I know in some places they try not to give preferential treatment to athletes, which I can understand, but you guys are giving up like 30 hours of your week to represent your school.”

“There is some free marketing when your school does well,” Girolametto said. “So to not give them those supports, I don’t think it’s fair. Seeing that academic support is great. Supports in terms of mental health, strength and conditioning. To have all of those supports here in athletics for our athletes, I think it’s awesome.

“That’s on par or even above what you see in the OUA [Ontario University Athletics] sports or any other colleges. I really think Mohawk is one of the top athletic departments now in Ontario.”

Calura added he feels the same way about how Mohawk takes care of its athletes.

“We’re given a ton of faculty help,” Calura said. “We have academic advisors that we can go to talk to, we have stuff for mental health if we’re having a tough time with school, life, basketball, that type of stuff. We are given way more than what we need to succeed, in my opinion. I think the program has been fantastic, no complaints, all the way through.”


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