Video Spotlight - Niko Monachini

LANGLEY, British Columbia - When Niko Monachini ran on the court for Friday night’s home opener, it marked both the end of a long voyage back and the start of a brand new adventure forward.

On Oct. 15, 2010, Monachini, already sidelined for what would be the duration of the basketball season because of an issue with his sciatic nerve, learned that his father, Aldo, had died.

An avid long-distance runner, the Italian born but world travelling Aldo had gone for a typical Friday morning run when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and passed away instantly.

And at that point, Monachini’s live was changed forever.  

“I have never felt that much pain in such a short period of time,” Monachini recalled. “When my dad passed away so suddenly it just put life into perspective for me. I started to think about life differently and my priorities changed.

“I didn’t really have experiences with death before that and you think you live forever when you’re young and having that happen and to someone that close to me woke me up a bit and opened my eyes up to what I want to get out of this life. We only have one chance at this.”
For the next couple of months, Monachini, who grew up a passionate basketball player, suddenly wasn’t sure about what to do next in life, let alone on the court.

But the one stronghold he could grip onto was his team. Last year’s men’s basketball team was a veteran group and, while they had no idea what he was going through, they were with him throughout.

“It was just great to know that they were there for me,” Monachini said. “I came back the semester after and all the love they showed was phenomenal.

“The thing I also realized was how much Scott [Allen] and the whole coaching staff, especially Matt Boulton, cared for me at the time and how much support they showed. Them being older I looked up to them and they helped me a lot.”

But despite a team surrounding him, basketball was starting to become less and less of a focus in his life and by the end of what was a CIS silver medal winning season for the men’s basketball team, Monachini told the coaches he was done.

“I didn’t have the passion. I needed to step away from the game and step away from the school,” Monachini said. “At the end of last year I didn’t think basketball was going to be a part of my life anymore.”
Instead, Monachini, who is in pre-medical school, wanted to learn and he wanted to be the best and hardest working student he could ever be. Not unlike Aldo.

“When my dad passed away, I was kind of floating,” Monachini said. “I thought things would just come to me. I know I didn’t work as hard as I should have in some respects. It made me realize how much my dad accomplished in his short life and how much he got done. I’m very proud of the life he lived and if I could learn as much as he did in my life that would be a great accomplishment for me.”

But as the summer progressed and he got chatting with his teammates more and more, his passion for the game started to rekindle.

He was getting healthy again and slowly he started to yearn for the court.

“The summer passed and I realized how much my dad loved watching me play and the atmosphere of basketball,” Monachini said. “You only get one youth and I don’t want to regret it.”

In August, he watched the Spartans play a preseason game against Ball State at the Richmond Olympic Oval and, after watching them play, he decided he had to return.

“I think there were some other emotional issues attached to the school and the team that were unnecessary,” Monachini said. “I feel that coming back is fighting my inner demons because everything here reminds me of my dad. “

And there’s no doubt, September was tough.

Every time he walked across the campus he thought of his dad. Every time he walked into the gym he thought of his dad. Every time he shot hoops he thought of his dad.

His dad was there when he had gone to all these places for the first time.

“He loved coming out and supporting me,” Monachini said.

But after about a month, Monachini has been able to start to turn the page and start to embrace Trinity Western once again.

On October 14, one day shy of a year since Aldo’s passing, Monachini was in China with the men’s basketball team on a week-long goodwill tour.

That night, the team had a time to remember Monachini’s father and everyone dedicated their games to Aldo. The team won 86-70 over the Beijing Sports University and there’s no doubt Aldo, who was never a basketball player but was always excited to learn the game, cheered.

That brings us back to the beginning and Friday’s game against Victoria.

When Monachini walks out and his name is boomed over the loud speakers, he will be wearing the number two, which represents two things.
First, it represents his dad’s birthday: June 2, 1955. Second, it represents the second chance he’s been given to play basketball and attend Trinity Western.  

And with that mind, as Monachini, who is expected to be a rebounding giant for Trinity Western this season, begins his next expedition, he has two goals.

“I just want to do well [in school and on the court] and make my dad proud.”

Last Updated: 2011-11-08
Author: Mark Janzen