OPC: “Celebrate the fact you’ve been recognized for your ability and character”

The countdown begins to CanadaFootballChat.com Ontario Prospect Challenge on the May 1st weekend.  In the days leading up to OPC, CFC will preview the teams, coaches and players participating in the big event.

While Mike Solanki only played the game at the high school level, he was introduced to the other side of the gridiron thanks in part to his son.

“I started coaching my sons in minor football and have continued to move up to more competitive football over the years,” explained Solanki.

Throughout his coaching career, Solanki has built up a resume full of experience at on different teams at various levels. In 2000, he began a six year stint with the Niagara Regional Minor Football Association (NRMFA).  During his time there he instructed at the tyke, atom and peewee levels.

Solanki moved on in 2006 to become Defensive Line Coach for the junior varsity Niagara Spears of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL). He would remain in that position until 2009.

He won an OVFL Championship while he served as the peewee Spears Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Line Coach during the 2010 season.  That same year, Solanki was also the Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach for Holy Cross Raiders of the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association (NRHSAA) and guided the team to a Division 2 Championship.

The next year (2011), Solanki became the varsity Spears Defensive Line Coach.  In 2012, he served as junior varsity Linebackers Coach of the Burlington Stampeders of the Ontario Football Conference (OFC) who were crowned league champions.  Also that same season, he led the Raiders to their second consecutive Division 2 championship and was Linebackers Coach for the OFC’s Burlington Braves.

Currently, Solanki is Linebackers Coach for the varsity Spears as well as the Defensive Backs Coach of the OFC’s junior Hamilton Hurricanes.

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For his part, Solanki credits the other coaches and instructors who have motivated and inspired him to achieve success on the gridiron.

“I have learned the game and continue to develop as a coach because of the opportunity to be around some great coaches and players at many levels,” expressed Solanki.  “I look up to and want to emulate the coaches that have great knowledge of the game.”

“Stefan Ptaszek and the McMaster coaching staff have knowledge and coaching style that really resonates with me.”

Overall, he is passionate about coaching because of the unique opportunity to make an impact during a player’s career as well as a team.

“Coaching is a great fraternity and continues to be an incredible and positive experience,” added Solanki. “I am always learning from our players and coaches.”

“When you see the results of what you have been teaching and the development of your players /team there is no greater sense of accomplishment.”

Next weekend, Solanki will add another coaching experience to his illustrious career as he will serve as Head Coach of Team West varsity squad at the Ontario Prospect Challenge (OPC).

While there is the challenge of dealing with unfamiliarity that Solanki will face, he is confident that the tailored approach will equate to success come game day on May 1st in St. Catharines against their opponents, Team Halton-Peel.

“All-Star games do have an element of not knowing your opponent as well as you may know teams you see on a regular basis in high school and rep programs,” elaborated the Team West Head Coach.  “Our approach is to do what our team does best based on their skill set.”

“We want to put our players in a position for success.”

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Having been part of the entire OPC process, there is one highlight during the tryout phase that ranks as the most memorable for Solanki.

“The combined practice between West and East was a great experience and a snap shot of what we can expect from each other,” recalled Solanki.  “It also showcased the amazing athletes and coaches on both teams. “

Ultimately, the varsity Team West squad has a couple of key objectives they would like to achieve come game day.

“We have put together an incredible coaching staff for OPC West team,” commented Solanki.  “Our coaches have a great deal of knowledge and coaching experience.”

“Our goal is to impart this knowledge to the players to enhance their skills and abilities. This is a shared expectation among the Team West coaches.”

As for the players that will be participating in the game on May 1st in front of family, friends, fans and recruiters, Solanki offers some advice to them.

“Celebrate the fact you’ve been recognized for your ability and character,” offered the Team West Head Coach.  “Enjoy the experience with your new teammates and have fun.”

Overall, Solanki is looking forward to game day.

“I hope the players have a great time and enjoy the entire experience,” expressed Solanki.

(twitter: http://twitter.com/vohra_ameeta)

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  1. Pingback: 2015 OPC: Schedule, Previews, Scores and more… | CanadaFootballChat.com

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