Al NagataCoach Softball / Ice Hockey 2012
It is a special and rare breed of individual who becomes a coach. Al Nagata was one of those people. His coaching career spanned 1977 – 2005, almost thirty years of dedicated service to the kids of the community. From humble beginnings as a boys’ hardball coach in North Delta, Al went on to coach many a sport, including boys’ softball for the five year period 1977 – 1981 and girls’ hockey 1980 – 1982. He often mentioned he was surprised at how aggressive girls could be once they strapped on a pair of skates!
When Al’s own three children grew to the age of organized sport, Al’s hobby became his passion. When his middle daughter joined the local soccer team, Al went to the library and read up on how to coach soccer, a game he knew nothing about. He coached those girls from 1984 – 1992, taking them on many road trips to the USA and Vancouver Island and chalking up plenty of victories along the way. Although just trying to teach the kids a few things and keep the game fun, he was making quite the reputation for himself and parents were asking how they could get their kids on his team. Every- body wanted to be on Al’s team.
1987 saw Al assume the coaching responsibilities of his only son’s soccer team. At first, they bounced back and forth between the soccer pitch and the hockey rink, but it became apparent that something had to give. They chose hockey and from 1990 – 1996, Al coached that hockey team, winning many games and tournaments along the way.
In 1985, Al truly found his passion in life when he agreed to coach his middle daughter in softball. His team was one of the inaugural Delta Heat teams, playing at the elite “A” level. He successfully coached those girls from 1985 – 2005, from beginning to end, travelling to Provincials every year and always placing in the top three. At Nationals, they reached top two. In 2007, he moved to Surrey to coach, as Delta didn’t have an open team for him. Our loss. He successfully coached girls’ softball there from 1997-2005, placing first in numerous tournaments and consistently top two in Canada. Many of his former players from both associations went on to college or university on softball scholarships, truly a credit to his coaching abilities. In 2005, Al once again returned to Delta, to take on the North Delta Sunfire ’93 girls. He made a lasting impression on that team in just two short months before sadly passing away in October of that year.
We should all be so lucky as to have been coached or have our loved ones coached by such an amazing individual. His passion for life was coaching and his record and legacy reflects his success in this field. Al’s motto for sports was “Try Hard, Have Fun!” Certainly words for all of us to apply in our daily lives.