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
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
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
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
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
More information about the Volleyball Academy is available HERE.