West Shore resident and Belmont volleyball coach, Mike Toakley, was presented with the B.C. School Sports coach of the year award at Belmont’s end of year athletics award ceremonies.
What makes this achievement even more special is that Toakley is set to retire from teaching at the end of this school year.
Ken Lowe, Belmont’s athletic director, had known Toakley was receiving the award for a few weeks beforehand, but kept it a surprise.
Toakley coached Lowe at the B.C. Winter Games years ago and the two coached a championship team together years later.
As a coach, he has won five high school provincial championships at Belmont, three with the senior girls, one with the junior girls, that he co-coached with Lowe, and a senior boys championship in ‘97.
Toakley was presented with a replica of a provincial championship banner, saying he was very humbled and excited by the award.
“I really appreciate the efforts the parent group and he [Lowe] went to, it was above and beyond and much appreciated,” Toakley said.
While it’s always desirable to end on a high note, Toakley doesn’t want to stop coaching anytime soon.
The core group at Belmont that won the three-peat championships – that Toakley has brought along since middle school – has four girls left to graduate and he wants to see them through until the end of high school.
“I love coaching volleyball and I’ll do it for as long as I can,” he said. “I enjoyed being with them and their families. It’s always been rewarding and extremely positive.”
When he himself graduated from high school, he had no idea the kind of legacy he would leave to the sport.
He attended the University of Victoria as a high jumper and when the men’s volleyball coach saw him jump, he recruited him to play.
Toakley said his first year of university volleyball was tough, playing with very gifted athletes, but he practiced every day in the off-season and he got better, a lot better.
So good, that he became a starter for the provincial junior team. After travelling to Hawaii and Japan with the team for tournaments he became hooked on the sport and it’s been his enduring passion.