Locals headed to Western Elites Competition in volleyball

Kyle Thompson attempts a block against the opposing six-man squad while teammate Connor Waterman, right, looks on. Waterman said he had a good year for sports, competing in badminton and basketball and is excited to build on it with a showing at the competition. "I'm really looking forward to BC," he said. "It'll be awesome."

By Ben Ingram

The lights are out at Carpenter High School for the summer, that is, except for the gym where one of Saskatchewan’s premiere under-17 men’s volleyball teams are practising.

The 12-man team held their first of three practises last weekend in Meadow Lake to prepare for the Western Elites Competition. The event will bring eight teams together from as far as Manitoba and will be held in Kelowna, BC, July 21-24.

“This is the first time we’ve had all 12 guys together, so we’re just seeing what we have and what we need to work on for this first practise,” Dustin Treptow, the coach of the team said.

“Second one will be more developing what we need, the better areas and the weaknesses. Third will be getting ready for the competition.”

Treptow is also the volleyball coach for the high school Spartans. For him, it will be his fourth year coaching the provincial team.

Having three weekends to practise does not afford the team a chance to focus on individual skills. Treptow said he’ll instead be setting his sights on team play, especially defence and serve receive, areas he feels need the most work.

“We haven’t won it for a lot of years,” he said. “Seems like Alberta and Manitoba are the teams to beat.”

Among the athletes chosen at selection camps in Regina and Saskatoon are three Meadow Lakers – Grade 10 student Connor Waterman, Jonas Samson grade niner Aaron Varjassy and Kyle Thompson, who will be entering Grade 12 at Carpenter in the fall.

“We’re shorter than we’ve been in the past,” the coach said, describing the high level of competition he expects in Kelowna. “We prepare the best we can and then we kind of make adjustments when we get there.”

The youngest of the three Meadow Lake athletes to make the team, Varjassy was happy to be one of those selected from around 45 athletes in the selection camps.

“I hustled and did as good as I could,” he said. “For junior high, I’m one of the taller people, but for this I’m probably going to be a bench warmer.”

Undeterred, Varjassy said he just wants to show the coach his desire to play by giving it his all.

For Waterman, volleyball has been part of his life for the past five years.

“I like pretty much everything about it, a lot of the hitting,” he said. “Grade five or six I started, with Gateway.”

Waterman was impressed by the team’s abilities right away, but also had praises for its coach.

“He’s teaching us a lot, almost everything,” he said. “I’m not used to this level of volleyball.”
The oldest of the Meadow Lake group, Thompson said summer volleyball became a rather unexpected part of his summer.

“I’m into basketball a lot more than volleyball,” he said. “But I missed tryouts, I didn’t know you had to sign up.”

Nevertheless, Thompson put his name in for volleyball and made the team. Having only played the sport since last year, he expects to use the experience to help the high school team next year.

“I just want to improve, it’s a learning experience for me,” he said.

Thompson uses his height as an advantage, playing middle and focusing on front row blocks.

“I think we have to get our team play going, our chemistry and stuff. We’ll be good, throw out a couple of wins for sure,” he said.

The second Saskatchewan team has been training in Prince Albert, the coach said.

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