7:30 a.m., March 7)
St. Peter Knight great honoured during jersey retirement
By Fred Sherwin
St. Peter Knight great Courtnay Pilypaitis
poses with her framed jersey along side her
former coach Mario Gaetano. Fred Sherwin/Photo
been six years since Courtnay Pilypaitis led the
St. Peter Knights to three straight city championships.
Since then she has gone on to have a standout career at
the University of Vermont where she helped lead the Catamounts
to their first ever NCAA tournament win and has represented
Canada on the international stage.
Wednesday, she returned to her alma mater where they retired
her number 3 jersey during a ceremony attended by her
parents, former coaches and three former teammates.
great to come back where I have so many memories,"
said Pilypaitis. "I feel honoured that they would
think of me and organize all this."
than 600 students, most of whom were in elementary school
when Pilypaitis played her final game at St. Pete's, crammed
in the cafetorium to watch a video montage of her career
that included video from some of her finest moments at
former coach and close friend, Mario Gaetano, introduced
Pilypaitis, describing her as an extremely talented player
who always put her team first.
was one of those rare players who was more interested
in making her teammates better than her own statistics.
She played with a lot of attitude, mostly good, and she
displayed class both on and off the court," said
it came time to address the assembly, Pilypaitis referred
to Gaetano as her "second father", and then
thanked her friends, family and former teammates for making
her time at St. Peter so memorable.
was probably the best time of my life. We had way too
much fun, especially on road trips, and we probably didn't
practice enough, but we still found a way to win,"
said Pilypaitis as former teammates Kelly Stevens and
Caitlin Lahey looked on.
former Knight and long-time friend Dayna Dover was also
on hand. Dover transferred to St. Pete's from Sir Wilfrid
Laurier Secondary School prior to the start of Pilypaitis'
final year and had to sit out the entire season, although
she did practice with the team.
event was supposed to be a surprise, organized by Gaetano,
and fellow teachers Shiela Kerwin and Scott Searle who
came up with the idea.
(Gaetano) said they were having an assembly and they wanted
me to talk to the students," said Pilypaitis. "I
wasn't really going to come until he told me Monday night
that I absolutely had to be here because it was all about
the jersey they retired on Wednesday is the same blue
jersey Pilypaitis "borrowed" after her final
year. Her father dug it out from some boxes and gave it
okay I still have a white one, I think. I'll have to go
over to my dad's and try and find it."
Pilypaitis started teaching his daughter the finer points
of dribbling, passing and shooting when she was just five
years old . He coached her competitively from the age
of seven until she entered Grade 9.
spent one year as a junior under the tutelage of Shella
Kerwin, before Gaetano snapped her up for the senior team.
first year she joined forces with another Knights great,
Tina Ethier, and the two girls led the team to a 24-6
record and their first city championship.
following year they went 25-4 and made it all the way
to the OFSAA gold medal game before losing to the Chatham-Kent
Pilypaitis' final year at St. Peter, the Knights went
29-3. Unfortunately, one of the losses was in the OFSAA
semi-finals and the team had to settle for a bronze medal.
long afterwards, she signed a scholarship to play at the
University of Vermont. By the time she graduated, she
set all-time school records for minutes played, three-point
baskets, assists and games played and was third in points
scored with over 1,900.
graduating she signed a professional contract with VICI
Kaunas in Lithuania, where here grandparents are from.
In 17 games this season she's
averaged 14 points and five rebounds.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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