John Valvassori was not born and raised in a soccer culture. His first exposure to soccer came in the third year of his Kinesiology program at McMaster when he took a course as an elective activity. It gave him enough confidence to take on a coaching role in his first three years of high school teaching in 1972-75.
As an athlete and Physical Education teacher, coaching became a natural passion as he guided many teams in many sports in the years that followed. In 1988, his close friend, Dave Edgcumbe invited John to assist him in coaching a u12girls Sparta team, which became a six-year project. The team won the inaugural Women’s Spec Cup as 19-year-olds. His next team, from 1995-2003, was extremely successful, winning Hamilton’s first two girls’ Ontario Cup titles in 1997 1nd 2003, and eleven of the players earned U.S. scholarships .His current team, the Sparta u15 girls team, has been his focus for the past 7 years, placing third in the Ontario Cup last year. John has also coached six winning Canusa teams, thirteen high school teams, and four women’s teams in the OWSL and WWISL leagues.
On the administrative side of the game, John was heavily involved in high school sports, serving for many years with HWCAA, GHAC and OFSAA, helping to oversee youth sports in Hamilton and across the province, and co-convening 6 OFSSA championships in Hamilton.
However, his greatest pride is in the Hamilton Sparta Soccer Club, where he has been on the executive for the past 25 years, including 11 as president. He has seen the club grow from 5 to 38 teams, as it has expanded from a youth competitive club to one with a very successful grassroots program and high level adult teams. As well as receiving a Meritorious Service Award from the OSA on its 50th anniversary last year, Sparta has also received Gold certification in the OSA’s Club Excellence program.
John has been recognized with a number of awards in the past, including the OFSAA Leadership in Sports Award (1992), Sport Hamilton Outstanding Volunteer (2009),the OSA Meritorious Service Award( 2013) and the Alex Fotheringham Award (2016). However, his greatest reward comes with involvement of his own family in the game, as players, coaches and administrators. Last year, six of his grand-children also wore Sparta uniforms. That, along with the many wonderful people he has met along the way, is why, for John, soccer has become a labour of love.