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Storied Coach, Villa Maria’s Sister Maria Pares Passes Away

By January 21, 2017Athletics

The Villa Maria College Viking community mourns the loss of assistant women’s basketball coach Sr. Maria Pares, OSF.  Pares died Friday at age 75, from cancer complications.  Pares has been an assistant coach for the Vikings since 2015 when the College reintroduced intercollegiate athletics.  Pares led an incredible life of service to the community, and especially to the basketball community in Western, New York and beyond. 
The legendary high school coach spent 40 years at Sacred Heart Academy in Amherst, NY.  Her tenure as leader of Sacred Heart began in 1973.  In her first 13 seasons, she earned a record of 229-10.  She also recorded a remarkable 127-game winning streak and earned a New York State Class C Championship in 1986.  

In 1982, Pares was hired as the head coach at Canisius College and recorded a 26-5 overall record in her first year, resulting in a New York State Championship.  The Lady Griffs reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament in the next season.  Pares was named Converse Region II Coach of the Year that season.  She put together an overall record of 108-39.

In 1986, Pares moved on to Marquette University where she sent the Warriors to the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament and implented the University’s first women’s basketball tournament.  Pares was featured in national publications such as USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, and the New York Times.  She also had an apperance on “The Late Show” with Joan Rivers in 1987.

Pares made her way back to Sacred Heart in 1999.  She had nearly 300 wins during her time at Sacred Heart.  

Sr. Maria’s coaching career has earned her many local and national awards.  Listed below are her achievements.

– Upstate Conference College Coach of the Year
– Buffalo Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award
– High School Coach of the Year
– UB Recognition Award at the 19th Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
– Inducted in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame
– Inducted in the Sacred Heart Academy Sports Hall of Fame
– Inducted in the Town of Amherst Sports Hall of Fame
– Inducted in the Canisius College Sports Hall of Fame. 
Here is a link to a story from The Buffalo News as well: