Competition is high this year for spots on the plane trip to Yellowknife for the Spike It! volleyball tournament later this fall, and it might not just be performance on the court that separates hopefuls.

Jacob Lennie-Blake and Krish Sharma have fun during a volleyball drill at practice. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

“We try to make them work hard, talk about discipline and being aggressive on the court, lots of team play (and) making sure they’re coming to school,” said Jeffrey Amos, who is coaching a large contingent of Grade 9 and 10 boys. “Academics is very important. They could be the best player there, but if their marks and their attendance are not there, then it’s not real hard to cut (them).”

Eighteen Grade 9 and 10 boys are competing for that team, which will be whittled down likely to eight, or at most 12, if funding for that many plane tickets allows.

“It’s going to be really hard to cut,” said Amos. “I told them at a meeting this morning that if they want to make the final cut, it’s all about discipline.”

Before the Spike It! tournament in November, East Three School will be hosting the Paulou Ittungna Memorial Tourney in October.

Amos says his players have a strong foundational skill level this year, thanks in large part to the fact they’ve been coached at the school before.

“These guys are in Grade 10 now, so we’ve had coaches involved in their life earlier,” he said. “It makes life easier. The skill development is there.”

Inuvik’s junior girls made history last year at Spike It!, bringing home East Three Secondary School’s first volleyball banner from the tournament.

Grade 10 student Shenise Mavis played on that team. This year, she is coaching the 12U girls after expressing interest in the role to Amos.

“I treat these girls with respect,” said Mavis about her first foray into coaching. “I tell them if they give me respect, I give them respect. I’m getting the hang of it. I just hate being strict with them because I feel so mean, and that’s just not me. I try to be nice about it.”

The key to another year of success is just having fun and listening closely, she said.

The big challenge for Amos now is fundraising to attend Spike It! in Yellowknife. He hopes to bring four teams to the tournament.

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