September 25th, 2016

Kate Andrews loses a coaching icon


By Lethbridge Herald on October 2, 2015.

By Dave Wells
Long-time Coaldale Kate Andrews teacher and basketball head coach Pius Labolevech has shuffled off this mortal coil at age 80. Through current KA athletic director Kevin Holland I was very gratified to learn the funeral is set for Cornerstone this Friday at 1 p.m. I hope many readers send Pius off with passion, an attribute he personified.
Alas, I’ve attended less than 10 funerals in my life. That trend will continue in this case. Fortunately, I have an outlet to express my thoughts here.
In truth, I didn’t know Pius well. We had many conversations over the last four decades and I can never remember a negative one, but it would be a gross overstatement to characterize our relationship as close.
However, I know first-hand Pius’s teams were very successful from a won-loss and championship perspective, particularly in the 1970s. I know first-hand he was a coach who took great pride in improving his players’ footwork. I know first-hand he demanded simple, disciplined play from his charges. I know first-hand he helped produce numerous post-secondary performers including Ed Dyck, Leonard Boras and Mike Girbav.
To me, Dyck, the oldest of that trio, was one of the better high school players in this area in the 70s. I remember how struck I was by his talent on first viewing.
I searched out folks that knew Pius much better than me to get insider opinions. Long-time Herald newsroom staffer Dave Sulz and Catholic Central teacher Jim Spiess have extensive Coaldale connections (Spiess had Pius as a classroom teacher, in fact) and interacted with him exponentially more often than moi. Both are among the finer gentlemen anyone could hope to meet and were glowing in their reviews. Tellingly, both smiled broadly when the topic first came up.
Make no mistake Pius could be a stern, high-decibel, coaching taskmaster. I doubt his sideline style would be accepted by many parents in these politically correct days. As someone who doesn’t exactly relish public criticism I understand. Still, I sometimes wonder if kids are really benefiting from this turn in our society?
As evidence, I put forward the outpouring of genuine true love by literally scores of Pius’s Kate Andrews’ hoop charges at his Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame induction last May. I’d guess they were mostly between ages of 45-65. They’d had plenty of years to figure out whether Pius had been been a positive factor in their lives. Positive in a landslide was the obvious answer.
Godspeed, Pius.
•••
There are some major Southern Alberta High School Football League encounters under this week’s Friday Night Lights. It appears, for the second straight week, the meteorological conditions will be stellar.
There is a major Division B/Tier IV encounter in Claresholm when Pincher Creek visit Claresholm Willow Creek at 7 p.m. These teams are ranked No. 3 and 4 in Tier IV provincially by Football Alberta.
The University of Lethbridge Stadium is the site of a double-dip. At 5 p.m. Winston Churchill and Chinook take the plush, faux-grass pitch. They are not in the same SAHSFL Division, but are already slated to meet again in the Tier II league playoffs.
The 7:30 p.m. encounter has Catholic Central hosting Cardston in a Division A tilt. Winning is crucial to each program’s chances of taking the T. Eaton Trophy, which both have hoisted in recent years.
Raymond’s Don Steed Memorial Field is the site of a 7 p.m. throwdown as LCI comes to town. It’s a Division A encounter and since these are the two Tier I teams in the loop, in addition to the regular season chase, the right to host their inevitable playoff game is on-the-line. Last year LCI took the first round and venerable Division hardware, but Raymond had their way in the post-season.
•••
From what I can gather Raymond’s new field-turf rectangular pitch’s installation is nearing completion. There’s even some hope the site could host games late this season, although more amenities will certainly be available next campaign on. I just love this project and wish other local communities would emulate the concept. I see former Raymond roundball great Richard Bohne is now back in the area serving as the town’s Director of Community Services. To my mind, the slender shooter is certainly one of the most memorable local high school athletes of the last five decades.
•••
There are 25 Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League matches this week. Really.
Undefeated teams in the league before Wednesday action include Taber W.R. Myers, LCI, Catholic Central and Chinook varsity girls; Catholic Central, Kate Andrews and Chinook junior varsity girls; Chinook and LCI varsity boys; plus the Chinook and Magrath JV boys.
WELLSIE’S WORLD — Last week in this space I advanced a fundraising basketball game between the University of Lethbridge and Red Deer College men at U of L in support of Pronghorn big man Brent Watkins recovering from a serious car accident. I understand about $16,000 was generated in last Friday’s event.
Well done.

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