About 150 grade five to seven School District 47 students took to the courts for a wrap-up volleyball meet at Westview Elementary and Oceanview Education Centre, where the goal was fun.
The November 22 tournament was jamboree-style, meaning there were no playoffs to declare a winner. Instead, participants played round-robin games with students from other schools from 1 to 4 pm, emerging tired from their efforts.
Organizer Dean Thorsell said the volleyball season started with teams from different qathet region schools playing each other, beginning October 11.
“Coaches would just self-organize, so a coach from Edgehill [Elementary School] would call a coach from Westview and they’d have a game,” said Thorsell. “They would decide which school to go to and the teams would go over and play.
“There were quite a few of those games. As a former coach in one of the schools, in the past, I would try to go to every other school at least once. The teams get upwards of seven to 10 games before the big tournament in the six or seven weeks before. We like to culminate with a final wrap-up tournament.”
Thorsell said for this year’s tournament, there were 19 teams from eight different schools. He said the school sports committee decided it was going to be a jamboree, versus tournament style.
“The jamboree is more inclusive and keeps teams playing right until the end instead of having a knockout and elimination tournament, which would end up seeing two teams in the final,” said Thorsell. “We also decided, in order to help participation, they would play on badminton-sized courts down at Westview, with 12 teams playing at a time.
“We also had a few teams playing up at Oceanview on the full-sized courts at the same time, so we did a little mix of both. The kids were able to get a lot of participation, with 16 out of 19 teams playing at a time. Students were able to get a little bit of a feel for the full court that they might be playing on if they were to go on to play club volleyball or if they were to go into the high school next year.”
Thorsell said some schools were able to put together several teams and just included grades six and seven students, because if they included the grade fives, there may have been 30 teams in the tournament. Some of the smaller schools had to bring in their grade fives to create teams, he added.
Thorsell said elementary school volleyball is about participation, getting students active and moving, and introducing them to a fun sport that goes beyond athletics.
“With volleyball, we’re introducing them to a new sport for a lot of these kids,” said Thorsell. “Along with teaching them the sports skills, and getting them participating and active, coaches are also teaching them about perseverance and commitment to a team, having that growth mindset and being able to participate. These are life skills they’ll need to do anything.
“Teamwork comes in, as does communication with each other. They are learning to be able to cover their own section of the court rather than trying to all go for the ball. I think the coaches at each of the schools do a fantastic job, providing students with these opportunities and going above and beyond.”
Thorsell said the students have come so far. After they start in October, and then come to the year-end wrap-up, the growth that has gone on is evident, he added.
“Hopefully, the students are seeing the growth in themselves and what hard work can bring,” said Thorsell.
The schedule was exhausting. Each team was able to play about eight games during the three-hour duration of the tournament.
“Some kids were wiped by the end of it,” said Thorsell. “There wasn’t much sitting. For the most part, they were playing, playing, playing.
“It was really cool to see the kids come together and get that bump, set, spike order of play working, to create that level of attack as a team. It’s always amazing to see the smiles on kids’ faces when they are out there, having a great time doing it and being healthy.”
As well as involvement from elementary school students and the teachers, Thorsell said referees for the tournament were high school volleyball students.
“Students who had probably played in this tournament in previous years came back to help referee, so I wanted to acknowledge them for the great work they have done to continue a tradition they were probably part of themselves,” said Thorsell.
He added that some high school students have organized a volleyball camp for elementary students this month during a couple of Saturdays, for grades four to seven.