King City Secondary School says goodbye to dedicated teacher, beloved sports coach

July 13, 2022   ·   0 Comments

Bradley Matwijec, all decked out in his King City Lions attire, is accompanied by a piece of memorabilia from all of his sports he coached over his 21-year span at KCSS.

By Robert Belardi

King City Secondary School said goodbye to long-time teacher and coach at the school Bradley Matwijec.
Matwijec, who first came to King City Secondary School in 2001, entered the school as an American and Canadian history teacher, before transitioning to a full-time sports/athletic/teacher/coach.
Widely respected by fellow teachers, coaches and students, Matwijec accomplished many things as a coach in baseball, football, hockey, soccer and basketball respectively.
In a Q&A with the King Weekly Sentinel, the Rexdale native recapped the most prolific moments as a teaching professional and as the man behind the bench.
Q: Why did you get into teaching?
A: I went to (York University) in the beginning to get more involved in sports and athletics because I had a bit of a background in football. Probably wasn’t until my third year, that I was thinking of the possibility of teaching. I was taking history and sports and athletics.
Q: Where was your first teaching gig?
A: I started teaching at the York Region Catholic Board. I was teaching as a supply teacher, working in high school. I did that in my fourth-year university and I was also doing it in teacher’s college to help supplement paying as a student. It gave me a really good pulse on what I would be doing as a teacher.
Q: When did you get to King City Secondary School?
A: I came there in 2001. The principal there, she asked me if I played football and I said yes. She said well, if you take the job here, will you coach football? I said certainly. I didn’t know at that time, I would be taking on the head coaching position for the football program. But that’s what happened. That spring, I also began coaching baseball, with a guy who became a good friend of mine, Mike Mallory. He and I that year, we started coaching together. We went on to win five baseball championships together. We were very much known at that time from 2001 to 2008 as the premier baseball school. We were going to OFSAA every year and ended up in the Prentice Cup in 2004 and lost in that game, at the Skydome.
Q: You’ve had lots of achievements over the course of 21 years, what would be some of the most notable achievements?
A: I think, the baseball, when you win five championships and make the final game, and obviously doing that in a couple of sports. We did the same thing in football in 2010. We won the York Region title, beating Huron Heights 28-0. Then go on to win in the Metro Bowl semi-final and then to end up at the Metro Bowl at the Rogers Centre. We played Holy Trinity and we lost that game. But that was the first time King City had ever been to a Metro Bowl. That’s the premier high school football bowl in Ontario. That was on television, TSN, it was a big thing. I have to say hockey, too. Winning three York Region Championships in a row. Scott Thain helped me build the hockey program and it blossomed. Having an undefeated team in 2020. We had a 22-0 record going into OFSAA, but COVID shut that down. The year before in OFSAA we won bronze and the year before that, silver. That illustrated our hockey dominance from 2017-2020. And for soccer, we were slated to go to AA OFSAA in 2020.
Q: What was your biggest accomplishment in the classroom?
A: Big thing for me, each day was building those relationships and building a rapport with all students not just athletes. And, helping them navigate through their difficulties and some of the things that students would struggle with. Those are championships within themselves.
Q: Biggest challenge?
A: Time management becomes a big deal when you got your own family. Three young kids, my wife is at home and I’m coaching football after school. The challenge is – and you’re going to laugh at this one – staying married. Staying true to your relationship. My wife, I was very fortunate because she bought into what I was doing. She came to watch games with the kids. She knew what was going on and she took an interest. When we got married, she understood where I was headed with my career. When I got to King, it became a real focal point. That’s a challenge to balance school, athletics, because there were times I was spending more times with the athletes at the school than my own kids.
I was really lucky. In the sense, I was able to get along with the people I was teaching, the King City community itself is really supportive of sports and athletics and get behind the people that are trying to help their children. You don’t get that everywhere. It’s a tribute to the community, a lot of that is the support the parents are giving.
Q: What was your secret to coaching?
A: Look, basketball for me was my first love, back in Rexdale when I was a youngster. It was so easy to apply a lot of the things I had learned through the years. It’s almost always the same recipe. Yes, you have to put work in as a coach. My parents had me on community teams. Hockey, baseball, football later on. I had what I call physical literacy skills. If you can communicate those to people you’re trying to teach and coach. It was a lot easier for a person like myself, to take those skills and sort of apply them to teachings and coaching scenarios I was in.
Q: How many medals have you won in total?
A: Five baseball tier one championships. Four football championships. The hockey, three YRAA championships and then a couple of OFSAA medals, bronze and silver. Tier one, AA basketball championship this past year. The funniest one of all, is the girls snowboarding championships. They needed a coach, they won the OFSAA gold championship medal. To get that, all I had to do was get there, show up and let them do their thing. That’s the OFSAA championship that I have ha-ha.
When you’re the jack of all trades and you can engage that many students I think you’re doing your job. I learned that from my mom. A way of helping people enjoy. Maybe that’s one of the things I was good at. The three things that have guided me always were passion, faith and persistence.
On behalf of the King Weekly Sentinel, congratulations to Bradley, on all of your accomplishments and your success’ at KCSS. You will be missed.



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