North Vancouver School District
the natural place to learn©
Jan 17
Volleyball academy offers fun and competitive balance

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Academy student Kai Konkin is taking advantage of his volleyball  training at Sutherland to help earn him a spot on a U16 boys’ team. 


By Maria Spitale-Leisk, NVSD Communications


“I love volleyball – I was willing to do anything to play the sport more often,” says Handsworth Secondary eighth grader Francis Benoit, of why he signed up for Volleyball Academy.

“The best part for me is seeing all of my friends, as well as playing six-on-six at the end. I’m sure that 90 per cent of my friends will say the same!”

Benoit heads to Sutherland Secondary, where the Volleyball Academy is hosted, for a 6:30 a.m. start on the court.

A physiotherapist leads the players in a thorough warmup before the drills begin. All those choreographed bumps, sets and spikes are put to good use during the “fun and competitive” six-on-six game that closes out the session.

“Volleyball Academy offers great coaches who help you with technique, conditioning and all the good stuff,” describes Benoit, who has set goals within the sport.

Fellow Handsworth eight grader Kai Konkin says sought out the Volleyball Academy “because there is not really a team for boys on the North Shore.”

Konkin is taking advantage of his volleyball training at Sutherland to help earn him a spot on a U16 boys’ team.

“Volleyball Academy helps my game because it gives me drills to work on accuracy of serving and passing,” says Konkin. They also give us time to play games which helps me use these skills in a game setting.”

Academy co-coach Rob Gowe has been immersed in high-level volleyball for 36 years as a player and instructor. Gowe currently helms the women’s volleyball program at Capilano University. He is also the head coach for the Volleyball Regional Excellence program in North Vancouver, and for Team BC Select.

The school district formed a partnership with Volleyball Canada in 2012 to begin the academy at Sutherland, consisting of three coed, multi-graded streams that benefit both newer and seasoned players.

“One of the original academy athletes arrived with very little experience and in five years earned a place at a university back East,” says Gowe, of one player’s progression through the streams.

In the top stream, players are refining technical skills, learning advanced aspects of technique and thinking more tactically while playing.

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Francis Benoit practises his setting at Sutherland.


Graduates of the Sutherland program have gone on to play at UBC, SFU, Thompson Rivers University, UBC Okanagan, CapU, Seattle University and St. Mary's College ( NCAA Division 1) – and even gone on to represent Canada.

More information about the Volleyball Academy is available HERE.

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