The top volleyball players in the city are one step closer to representing the territory at next year’s Western Canada Summer Games after both the men’s and women’s teams held their first set of tryouts last weekend.

Dylan Harker gets set to serve the ball during a practice at the Western Canada Summer Games trials last weekend.
Dylan Short/NNSL photo

After a full weekend of evaluations the top 18 boys and top 20 girls will make up the two training teams moving forward. The final teams will be cut down to 12 on both sides in May before the games begin next summer.

“I think it went really well, we had 27 boys trying out for the team, we’ve narrowed it down to 18 for our training time from here to April,” said Jeannie Mathisen, the boys head coach.

The birth date cut off for the games is 2003 however the games allow Team NT to bring up to four over-age athletes two of which can be born in 2001.

“We’ve selected 10 2003 kids and we’ve selected eight over-age kids,.We’re currently thinking we’ll be taking eight 2003’s and four over-age kids so 12 total make the team.” said Mathisen.

With so little time before the games begin, Mathisen said the evaluators were looking at how well the athletes could react in game like situations. She said there were a lot of athletes with raw skills, but without enough time to teach the nuances, the boys would already need to know gameplay fundamentals.

“We were looking for a pretty high level already of volleyball skill, particularly game awareness and ability to play position volleyball not just get out on the court and kind of pass set hit from wherever you are, but have an understanding of the role of the different positions on the court,” said Mathiseon. “Because its the Western Canada Summer games and because we need some kids that are already at a very high level.”

On the girls side of things, head coach Darren Horn outlined a few other metrics that the camp attendees were being measured on.

“Passing, setting, hitting, blocking, individual defense but we’re also looking at the other intangibles like communication and court awareness,” said Horn.

Horn said he would be keeping his training squad a bit bigger due to a number of potential participants also trying out for other sports at the games as well as accounting for injuries as one camp attendant was already sporting a cast during this weekend’s Sunday session.

Moving forward, both Horn and Mathisen said they expect their training squads to be playing regular volleyball as well as following weight plans in order to improve their strength before the April cuts.

“We’ll set up training plans for them if they have access to a weight room if they don’t just simple squats and calf raises just something to build up their strength and endurance at home and we did some physical testing on the weekend and we’ll do those same tests in April and we’ll see who’s been taking care of themselves,” said Horn.

Both teams are expected to be selected in May. Indoor volleyball will take part during the second week of the games in August of 2019.

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