Co-captain Mark D'Agostino, 19, won't be happy
until Vanier makes a return to nationals this year.

D'Agostino's hard work pays off
Cager named co-captain of Vanier. 'Winning All-Canadian
award made me believe I could compete with the best'

by ARPON BASU, Freelance
Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Mark D'Agostino is not one to take no for an answer.

The Dollard des Ormeaux native played his bantam club basketball for Pierrefonds-based Brookwood, but when D'Agostino was in his first year of midget, he was cut from the team.

Though he still had places to play - he was on his high school team at Pierrefonds Comprehensive and also played in the Brookwood house league - he wasn't satisfied.

"I was really discouraged," the 19-year-old said. "So I asked them if I could still practise with them, and I went to every practice."

So, while playing and practising with Pierrefonds Comprehensive and playing house league hoops, D'Agostino worked hard with the Brookwood midget team all season.

"I would go to practice and I would go watch them play," D'Agostino said. "It really was tough to watch them, especially when things weren't going so well. I just wanted to help them."

At the end of the year, he was finally given his chance to do just that, helping Brookwood down Sun Youth for the provincial championship. Brookwood had previously lost to Sun Youth in the Montreal Basketball League final, with D'Agostino watching from the sidelines.

Did he make the difference?

"I wouldn't go that far," he said with a laugh, "but it felt good beating them."

The following year, D'Agostino had a good year for Brookwood, but was cut from the Quebec team, yet another motivating setback.

The year after that, D'Agostino not only made the Quebec team, he eventually earned a starting spot and was the only member of his team named an All-Canadian at the nationals.

"It was, honestly, a great moment for me that I'll remember the rest of my career," D'Agostino said of hearing his name called as an All-Canadian. "Being cut the year before, then making it, then being named second team All-Canadian, it meant all the hard work paid off. Winning that award made me believe I could compete with the best."

Last year, D'Agostino played his rookie season for Vanier College and made an immediate impact, sharing the team's most-improved-player award and contributing off the bench.

This year, however, D'Agostino was named a team co-captain and was expected to provide Vanier with a consistent scoring and rebounding presence.

He hasn't disappointed, upping his numbers from 6.6 to 17.1 points per game and boosting his rebounding average from 3.3 to 5.6. He has helped lead Vanier to a first-place 7-1 record and No. 4 national ranking heading into the holiday break.

But he said he won't be happy until Vanier makes a return to the nationals this year as provincial champs.

"Being 7-1 doesn't mean anything," D'Agostino said. "We don't have a championship, we're not at the nationals, so what have we done?"

Considering how far he's come since being cut six years ago, it would be fair to say D'Agostino has done a lot.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2004