For the first time since 1997, Powell River plays host to the AAA High School Girls BC Volleyball Championship starting Wednesday, November 28, and running until Saturday, December 1.
The championship features the top 16 teams, some 200 players, from around the province. All games are open to the public, and Brooks Secondary School Thunderbirds senior girls are hoping their hometown will be out in force to cheer them on, according to Brooks principal and Thunderbirds head coach Bill Rounis.
“We’d love for them to all wear their Brooks and Max Cameron shirts,” he added.
The opportunity to see volleyball played at this level is rare in Powell River and much different from casual games, added Rounis.
“When you get a chance to see the high performance part of the game, it’s a bit of a treat,” he said.
Teams to watch this year include Crofton House School, which hosted and won the championship in 2017. The Vancouver private school has a Powell River connection, added Rounis: their athletic director, Gerald Lambert, formerly coached at Max Cameron Secondary School and will be in attendance with the team.
Lower Mainland private school Little Flower Academy, Campbell River’s Carihi Secondary School and Nanaimo District Secondary School have all been playing well this season, and Brooks Thunderbirds are also in contention, he added.
“We’re definitely in the mix, but we have to take that extra step to break through,” said Rounis.
In 2015, Brooks senior girls won silver and in 2016 took the bronze in the championship, coached by Doug Skinner and Jay Yule. This year Skinner is helping coordinate the event and Christy Sullivan is assistant coach. The current team is made up of players in grades 11 and 12 with one student in grade 10. Most have been immersed in volleyball since elementary school.
“Most of us have been involved in volleyball since grade four,” said team member Annika Krowitz, grade 12. “Our core group has been together since grade eight for sure.”
The need to travel, often long distances, to participate in matches has led to a team dynamic closer to that of family in many ways.
“We’ve definitely become really close friends through it,” said Hailey Shigeoka, grade 12. “It’s a big bonding thing especially because we have to take ferries and take such long trips.”
Although the objective is winning, the sport encourages camaraderie, said Katie Trevisanutto, grade 12.
“I’ve noticed that compared to other sports everyone is so nice, even on the court,” she said. “Obviously you’re going to play to beat your opponent but everyone encourages one another.”
Rounis agreed. “As much as they’re competing, they’re friends off the court.”
One rival Brooks particularly looks forward to playing is Port Alberni.
“We’re pretty excited because they’re pretty much our equals,” said Trevisanutto. “There’s never a guaranteed win, it’s always a really close game.”
Throughout all the planning and practicing over the past several months, the athletes are most excited about playing host, said Rounis.
“Historically it’s been us that’s had to travel,” he said. “Some of the teams have a long way to get here and we want to make sure we’re doing our part as a community to welcome them.”
The best way Powell River can show its support is by attending the games, added Trevisanutto.
“It’s a big deal. We haven’t hosted the provincials in a very long time,” she said. “And though volleyball isn’t as popular a sport as say soccer or hockey in Powell River, it’s important that the community gets involved.”
Matches take place at Brooks Secondary School, Westview Elementary School and Oceanview Education Centre gymnasiums. For more information, go to https://portal.sd47.bc.ca/group/71fc68z/Pages/default.aspx.