May 8th, 2019…WELLAND, Ont. - Sunday afternoon's first taste of summer weather in Welland was the perfect backdrop to an afternoon celebrating the Welland Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2019 inductees at the Seaway Mall.
The City of Welland celebrated the induction of new five inductees, including Niagara College's very own Frank DeChellis.
DeChellis's name has become synonymous with soccer in the region. With over 30 year's of experience, DeChellis also is a big believer in coach education and development, serving as a master coach developer for the Ontario Soccer Association.
After a one year hiatus, DeChellis returned to the Niagara College coaching staff in 2012 and became the Head Coach of the Niagara College Knights Men's Soccer team, after coaching the Knights Women's and Men's soccer programs in 2009 and 2010. This past season saw DeChellis lead the men's soccer program to their highest finish in program histor (7-2-1), and onto to their fourth consecutive OCAA (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) post-season appearance.
Of course, one does not go through 30 plus years of coaching with out crossing paths with former players down the road. In the case of DeChellis, the induction holds extra meaning to him, with former Montreal Impact player and Welland native, Simon Gatti, joining him in the Class of 2019. DeChellis coached Gatti during his first year of competitive soccer when he was just eight years old. Since then Gatti has gone on to have a successful career, both as a player, coach, and now Head Scout for the Montreal Impact Academy.
With Gatti in town for the Hall of Fame event, DeChellis, along with long-time assistant coach, Rino Berardi, put together a training session for some of the top male high school players and current Knights players run by Gatti on the Friday before the ceremony. Berardi was impressed with the high level of skill and passion demonstrated by the participants, no doubt brought out by Gatti's intensity and passion for the game.
"Simon has managed to make the game of soccer his entire life" says Berardi. "He sees the game so well and has the ability to see things in players who don't necessarily always see the spotlight on their respective teams but have so much potential."