THUNDER BAY – The Sir Winston Churchill Trojans sent coach Scott Masters – and the senior boy’s volleyball program – out with a bang.
The Trojans on Monday scored a straight set win over the rival St. Patrick Saints in the championship game, earning Masters his 11th high school title in his final year of coaching a sport he’s been involved with for the past 36 years.
“It’s amazing that we could be his last team,” said Trojan Scott Breukelman, after the contest, knowing Churchill is slated for closure next June.
“He put his heart and soul into this team … He just did everything he could for the team and he’s really amazing.”
The Trojans dedicated their season to their veteran coach, who delivered a sixth championship in seven seasons.
“We wanted to get it for him and for everyone else, especially the school too.”
Joe Bouchard, who played a key role finishing off points for the Trojans throughout the match, said Churchill’s program never would have hit the heights it did without Masters at the helm.”
“He is an amazing coach and he knows the game really well, he’s been doing it for how long. He’s a dinosaur out there,” Bouchard said with a sly smirk of reverence.
“He is a big factor on our team, a big influence. He gives us the energy we need out there when we’re playing and when we’re starting to play off.”
Masters, who was greeted by his father Jack – the former Thunder Bay mayor – after the game, choked back tears as he addressed the home crowd one final time in the gymnasium he’s called home for the past 17 years.
True to his style, he took none of the credit for the team’s success.
“I’ve been lucky enough at my whole career at Churchill to have a good group of kids. This was a great group of kids that I coached. I have really mixed feelings. I’ve been coaching for 36 years in high school and started when I was a student,” Masters said.
“It’s been a long career. I’ve had a lot of success, mainly because the kids buy into the program. We play for fun first and don’t worry about the score. It’s the way it worked all the way through … It’s sad to see Churchill close, for sure.”
The Trojans took control of the match in a first set in which they never trailed, taking it by a 25-19 score. The Saints took a one-point lead four times in the second set, but a 6-0 Churchill run, culminated by server Jack DeJong’s ace, stretched their lead to 16-8 and they’d go on to take the set 25-12.
St. Patrick jumped ahead 5-1 in the third set in the best-of-five match, but the Trojans slowly chipped away and took the lead for good on the 23rd point and never trailed again, taking the title with a 25-20 win in the finale.
Masters’ career isn’t done quite yet. The Trojans will host Kenora in the NWOSAA final this weekend at home, playing for a berth at provincials.