The RSS senior boys volleyball team is headed to provincials in Langley this week.
For the team of 12, lead by coach Sheena Bell, the provincial run has been at least three years in the making, for some five.
|Alex Klassen is the captain and setter. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)|
“I’m super pumped to end off my high school season heading into provincials with good, energy, good vibes and at the peak of our season,” said Alex Klassen, captain and setter for the team.
Bell has been coaching Klassen since he started playing volleyball in Grade 8 and she has had the same team for the last three years.
They have been playing volleyball six days a week this season, with three practices, league games in Vernon on Tuesdays and four tournaments.
In the off season Bell hosted drop in sessions and the boys often attended camps.
“We put a lot in,” Bell said.
Always on the line between an ‘A’ sized school, which has 80 or fewer boys in Grades 11 and 12, and an ‘AA’ size school, which has 81-225 boys in Grades 11 and 12, this year they are playing ‘AA’, which means the other schools are big and the competition is more intense.
“They worked really hard to get it, it wasn’t a given, but it was a goal at the beginning of the season and it is great to see it happen,” Bell said.
Bell said that one of the struggles that the team has overcome is being as competitive as they want to be on the court.
“Over the years, we’ve struggled with team intensity on the court but we have really struggled with team connection and accountability,” she said. “Now to see how that has been able to create a really positive team energy, positivity has taken over itself.”
At the beginning of every season Bell sits down with the team to talk about how they want the season to look; how competitive to they want to be? How equal do they want the court time to be?
Bell gives everyone court time. Though Klassen plays the entire game and some play more than others, everyone sees the court during a game, no matter what, everyone has a hand in the results.
“It’s harder, I can tell you that, but it seems to be worth it to me,” Bell said. “It helps them improve.”
Bell said she has tried to focus not only on skills but on team building as well, saying that the things they do and learn extend far beyond volleyball skills.
“As a team it is great to have a volleyball team but for sure it is more about the team culture and the team connection,” Bell said.
|After practice on Sunday the team did a food drive for the food bank. (Submitted)|
They talk about trusting their teammates, playing the position they are taught to play, but they also talk about Bell experiencing sexism from other coaches.
“They are very protective and when we play a team where they can tell the coach is disrespectful they want to crush them,” Bell said.
That extends off the court as well.
Bell is a counsellor who works at Community Connections and she said that consideration is something that they talk about as a team all the time.
“How do your actions impact your self, your team, your supporters, it’s bigger than just them,” she said.
Last year the boys had warm up shirts made that say “Consent is mandatory.”
In the past Bell had a team that had shirts that said “feminism means equality” so when the new flock showed up to play they were excited and asking ‘what are we going to stand for.’
And it didn’t end with the t-shirts. On Dec. 6, which is National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the team went around to all of the classrooms at RSS and, with the help of some people from Community Connections, had conversations around sexual assault and the #metoo movement.
Bell has also encouraged the team to bond in other ways. Each year they do a get together off the court at the beginning and the end of the season in the name of team bonding.
“We got together last year for Halloween and they carved pumpkins with my kids,” she said.
When they travel to tournaments, Bell tries to book a full house on Airbnb so that they can all stay in the same place and make meals together.
“Culturally we have a great thing going,” she said.
Klassen agreed, saying that they had some troubles bonding as a team at the beginning of the season but they are going to pull together and pull through provincials.
“Even from the start of this season there has been extreme advancements every time we play and we are basically just at the peak of our season, is what it feels like,” he said. “The momentum is there, the energy is there and the want to win is there.”
The team’s goal is to finish in the top half of the tournament and get that extra day of playing after the round robin.
Altogether there are 16 teams competing at the AA tournament.
Bell said that, at the moment, the top ranked teams are mostly private schools.
“There is an interesting in dynamic in competing in volleyball at the provincial level, it’s not just the same kind of schools,” she said.
The teams first game is Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. against Princess Margaret School, from Surrey. They play again at noon against Lambric Park Secondary School from Victoria. Their final round robin game is at 2:30 against Prince Charles Secondary School from Creston.
When the team plays on Thursday and Friday will be determined by how they do in the round robin portion of the tournament. Should they make it to the medal matches on Saturday, a live stream is available at bchighschoolboysvolleyball.com/test-stream-channel-1-lec/
The Revelstoke junior boys went to provincials last week in Kamloops.