Volleyball program grows, adds senior squad
By Darren Lum
Everyone knows this season will be a challenge for the senior Red Hawks boys’ volleyball team, but its mere existence wasn’t even a possibility just a few years ago.
Third year player and captain Jacob Dobson is happy he can continue playing volleyball and be a mentor to younger players.
Dobson never played before high school and said playing has enriched his high school experience.
“It’s allowed me to experience more things than I experienced before. Every other sport I’ve done has sort of been something I’ve done before starting high school,” he said, referring to cross country, curling and track and field.
The Grade 11 student, who is also on the high school’s cross country team and curls competitively, has grown to love volleyball.
He has been part of the volleyball program since it started three years ago with a junior team.
The main difference for volleyball when compared to curling is the size of the team and the inherent dynamic differences, working with a group all at once.
Dobson is thankful to head coach Brett Caputo, who is responsible for resurrecting the boys’ program after the school lacked any representation for at least two decades.
“We’re looking to just keep improving and keep growing. Hopefully we’ll get a few wins in,” he said.
Caputo appreciates the boys’ interest. Their involvement and dedication has provided the opportunity to have two teams this season.
Other schools within the board with more students have just one volleyball team. Not only does Lindsay Collegiate Vocational Institute only have a senior volleyball team, but they couldn’t field a football team and barely have enough players for a varsity soccer team.
While talking to other coaches, Caputo said, “It seems sport in general in high school [is] a little bit in decline depending on pockets of where you are in Ontario, I guess. We’ve noticed it in all the schools.”
He wasn’t certain about why, but said it’s happened before, saying it comes “in waves.”
Caputo appreciates Dobson, his co-captain and setter Sam Hoenow, and the entire 11-player team for their attitude toward what is expected to be a challenging season, making do without any players with four or more years of playing experience.
“It’s a good group. We’ll see how it goes. We won’t know until tomorrow,” he said, referring to the season opener on the road. “It’s going to be tough because we’re playing big schools.”
Caputo said it helps to have eight players returning.
All tournaments, which include schools categorized from A to AAA, start at 2 p.m.
The team will be in tough this season when they play perennial volleyball powerhouses class A schools, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School and Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute.
St. Thomas not only earned a berth to OFSAA, the all-provincial championships, but finished with silver, losing to Louis Riel (0-3).
The team will be playing tournaments every Tuesday. It will host a tournament on Oct. 8 and then host the Kawartha Championship on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Caputo’s co-coach last year Mike Gaffney has remained with the junior team this season. According to the senior coach, the junior roster of 14 players look poised for on-court success.
“Good athletes. Their size is a little bit bigger. They grew a little bit. The Grade 9s,” he said. “It’s helped with only a varsity football team and no soccer. The Grade 9 show in town is volleyball now.”
Caputo believes in the future of the program and said it’s imperative to have a senior team to do that.
“Even if only six of these guys come back next year, we have eight guys moving up [from juniors] then the program can keep rolling from there,” he said.
Dobson welcomes being an example and is glad the program has grown.
He hopes it continues long after he has graduated.
“It’s been special growing up and seeing kids join the program, going into Grade 9 and going through the same thing I went through when I started. Just learning the game from the get go. I hope that they look up to me and I can be a good role model and inspiration for them and hopefully they’ll improve and keep the program going and improving,” he said.
At press time, an update from coach Caputo about the season opening tournament on Tuesday, Sept. 24:
“The senior boys volleyball team won the split (1-1) against AAA Cobourg Collegiate 25-14, 18-25 and dropped both sets to AA St-Mary’s. The boys played well as a team and showed a lot of potential moving forward this season,” he wrote.
The team’s next tournament is Oct. 1 at I.E. Weldon.