Sister Maria Pares

Sister Maria Pares

Coach and Administrator

When Canisius College hired Sister Maria Pares in 1982 to head women’s basketball, the school acquired a dedicated and dynamic coach who had already achieved legendary status at the high school level. While to some observers Sister Maria’s modern attire and feisty, aggressive coaching style may not have reflected the traditional conservative image of a nun, these fans quickly learned that she brought her winning “habit” to Canisius.

Sister Maria grabbed the coaching reins at Sacred Heart High School in 1973, and in 13 seasons, compiled a remarkable record of 229 wins and 10 losses for a .957 winning percentage. That record was punctuated by a winning streak of 127 games and a New York State Class C championship in 1986.

During Sister Pares’ tenure, her Sacred Heart teams not only dominated the Monsignor Martin Association, but routinely beat the best that the public schools had to offer. Sacred Heart was a regular participant in the Ken-Ton Kiwanis Tournament and Lockport Tournament, which featured outstanding public school teams.

At Canisius College, Sister Maria inherited an average squad (13-10 in 1980-81) and produced a 26-5 record and a NYS Championship in her first season. Her 1982-83 team went 18-5, once again capturing the New York State Division II title and reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Griff’s tenacious coach was honored that season as Converse Region II’s Coach of the Year. When Sister Maria Pares moved on to coach at Marquette in 1986, she left behind a record of 108-39 (.735) at Canisius.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Sister Pares’ coaching career is the fact that she achieved an unmatched level of excellence while coaching basketball simultaneously at Sacred Heart and Canisius from 1982 to 1986. In addition to basketball Sister Pares coached volleyball, softball and badminton at Sacred Heart, and several of her teams in those sports captured Catholic League titles.

Although a singularly demanding coach, Sister Pares never lost sight of the fact that excellence in any sport most often springs from enjoyment of the sport. Her common sense approach to coaching fostered mature, cohesive teams which produced not only outstanding results, but also produced a legacy of their coach embodied in several graduates who coach women’s college basketball at the Division I level. These coaches represent a generation of young women who have carried forth valuable lessons in perseverance, perfectionism and fulfillment from their coach, and teacher, Sister Maria Pares.

Sister Maria named to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Hall of Fame Honor Roll Class of 2015-16Read more →