2016 SHSAA Merit Award Winner

October 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Provincial and Territorial News

The NWHSAA congratulates our winners of the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Associations Highest Honour.

2016 Ms. Phyllis Longobardi La Loche Community School
2015 Mr. Greg Hatch La Loche Community School
2014 Mr. David Speirs Maidstone High School
1989 Mr. William (Bill) Thon Maidstone High School
1981 Mr. Ron Dosdall Carpenter High School
1967 Father Ben Hermann St. Thomas College


2016 – Ms. Phyllis Longobardi

La Loche Community School

Merit Award Citation – Ms. Phyllis Longobardi, North West

It is with great pleasure that the North West District acknowledges the tremendous dedication, leadership and contributions of Phyllis Longobardi to Saskatchewan High School sport over the last 35 years.

Phyllis Longobardi was born in Antigonish Nova Scotia and was raised in the small fishing village of Queensport. As a child, Phyllis was always actively involved in sport as she played Basketball, Volleyball, Hockey, Badminton and Softball during her High School days at Guysborough High School. During this time, Phyllis was also involved in music, playing the saxophone and the clarinet. It was also during her High School days that Phyllis began officiating Basketball, Volleyball and Softball.

Phyllis graduated from St. Francis Xavier University before accepting a grade 5/6 teaching position in La Loche in 1981. As Phyllis entered her career in education, she looked at the people in her life who had influenced her the most and used those lessons to guide her in teaching.  Mrs. Williams taught her the lesson of hard work and the importance of caring. Mr. DeCoff taught her the lesson of dedication and the value of school sport. Phyllis’s greatest teacher, her dad, taught her to work hard and to take pride in her accomplishments while maintaining humility. And lastly, he taught her to always have fun.

Phyllis brought the gift of learning to the classrooms of La Loche, but more importantly, she extended that classroom to gyms all across our province as she taught the lessons of life to the young men and women she coached.

Phyllis has had numerous highlights over her career in education. She has travelled thousands and thousands of miles with teams, never allowing distance and time away to be a deterrent. During that time, Phyllis’ teams have captured 4 SHSAA medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) and an impressive 4 SHSAA sportsmanship banners.  She takes pride in the fact that through all of the trips down the road, they’ve always had a lot of fun…and they’ve always made it home safely!

However, it was hosting events which separated Phyllis from us mere mortals. Phyllis and the staff at     La Loche Community School take great pride in hosting an event. In 2004, La Loche Community School hosted its first of 3 SHSAA provincial Volleyball championships. The province shared a collective concern about having to travel way up north to declare its annual champion. What they didn’t know was that     La Loche Community School was about to set a new standard for hosting SHSAA events. The athletes, their parents, and the officials were welcomed to experience and enjoy the Dene culture. The community shared their language, traditions, and generosity with everyone. At the conclusion of the event, the new SHSAA online message board exploded with note after note of kind words as people from all across our province thanked the community of La Loche for making their SHSAA provincial experience so special. To Phyllis, this was “just what we do”.

Phyllis’ dedication has had an enormous impact on her players and colleagues.  One only needed to witness her interactions with her team and her staff as they hosted Provincial Volleyball this past November.  It was easy to see why they would work so hard for her.  She is a dedicated leader.

Alwyn Piche, a former player and now colleague, had this to say about Phyllis, “Phyllis took care of us like we were her own. Phyllis always made sure we were well-mannered and respectful, not only on the court but off the court as well. Phyllis continues to display these great qualities and commitment to her players till this day”.

Phyllis has also had great influence in the world of officiating and the development of officials. An accomplished referee herself, Phyllis has worked at least 6 SHSAA provincial championships, as well as numerous provincial and national events for Volleyball Canada and the First Nation Winter games. Phyllis always challenged the people she worked with to be better.  Whether the call went her way or not, there was often a quick lesson about making the ‘correct’ signal.  Through her tough exterior, people quickly learned that this woman cared greatly about growing the game of Volleyball from every angle.

Greg Hatch, an SHSAA Merit award winner said this about Phyllis. “I have had the honor and privilege to work with Phyllis as an educator and a coach for over 35 years. Passion, heart and a tremendous work ethic has allowed her to make such a difference in so many people’s lives throughout her time in              La Loche. I have great respect and admiration for Phyllis! She is a selfless person who gave her all!”

Phyllis has always been a valuable member of the North West family. She has tirelessly done officiating clinics for the communities all across the North West District and helped build the Beaver River Athletic Association. As a result of this, and so much more, Phyllis was recognized by the North West District with our Service Award in 2005 and our Outstanding Official’s Award in 2013.

Away from the classroom and the hardwood, Phyllis is a quiet and reserved person. Music is still an important part of her life as she continues to enjoy to listen, sing, and play. Phyllis has also developed a passion for the game of golf over recent years and is working on lowering her handicap – evidently 5 is not low enough.

Phyllis will return to her roots in Atlantic Canada knowing that each day of her career, she made someone else’s life a little better. She has shared the lessons of hard work and a caring attitude, dedication and the value of school sport, and pride, combined with humility. Mrs. Williams, Mr. DeCoff, and your dad would be so proud!   But most of all Phyllis, thank you for always making it fun.










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