Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball team has gone to Calgary for its first recruit for 2016-17.
Head coach Pat Hennelly and the WolfPack are pleased to announce that 6’2” setter Jakob Hamilton of William Aberhart High School has committed to the program effective this September. Hamilton plays club volleyball for Canuck Volleyball.
“I have always wanted to play in the CIS and especially the Canada West,” stated Hamilton, whose high school team was second this past season in the Calgary 4A championships and third at the Alberta Provincials. “Canada west is the division that is the most competitive from top to bottom. On any given night, the two teams competing have a chance to win that match, which makes it very exciting to play with and against the best athletics in the country. TRU is a very strong, competitive program. The coaching staff last year (2015-16) recruited what I feel to be some of the strongest athletes in Canada and it has shown in the contributions they made to the success the team had this year. It’s therefore, very exciting to come to a program with other strong young and veteran athletes, as well as a strong technical and strategic coaching staff. I like the team dynamic and various personalities. This will allow me to continue to develop my setting skills, pushing me to achieve my potential. I believe that this team and program will continue with the success that it has shown over the years.”
Hamilton played for Team Alberta’s U-17 program last summer and they finished second at the U-18 National Team Challenge Cup. He believes he is joining the WolfPack at a great time with their starting setter—Graham Stoliker (Surrey, BC) competing his athletic eligibility this year. “It’s an advantage coming to a program that has only two setters. It provides you with the opportunity to maximize your touchs, which enables you to grow as a player because you are always involved in a competitive situation. It also gives you the opportunity to interact with the coaching staff more often in team and individual sessions.”
A setter primarily, Hamilton has also seen time at middle and the left side. He feels the situation at TRU will be the best for him as an athlete and a student. “I will have the chance to fight for a starting position early on in my career. I’ll get the touches and growth I want from the start. It’s an opportunity that is hard to come by in the CIS, especially Canada West. As a student, it’s the best situation because of the size of the university compared to bigger ones. The class sizes are smaller which makes it easier to learn and to talk with my professors. As well, TRU has a good environmental science program which I’ll be taking.”
Don Saxton is Hamilton’s club coach with Canuck Volleyball and has directed him at both the U-14 and U-17 (although he played U-18) levels. “Jackob is a competitor both in practice and games,” he says. “He likes to play, work hard and he enjoys being around the guys. He has become a leader with this group. He’s one of our most skilled guys in terms of ball control and especially setting. This year, he is starting to embrace the role of being a floor leader and really running the offense.”
Saxton adds: “He is our number one setter and is expected to lead the team on the floor. He has embraced that role and is gaining confidence in that area. As a young and smaller guy next year with a CIS team, he will have to do some catching up. But, I think he will embrace the work and will be able to start pushing the veterans before long at the next level.”
Confident in his abilities, Hamilton is also keen enough to know that he has some growing to do on and off the court. “I have great technical ability as well as knowledge of running a good offense. The main thing I have to work on being a smaller setter is working out to get stronger and to be more physical so I can compete against the bigger attackers in the league. Once I have achieved this goal, I think I will be in a position to provide options for the coach when needed.”
Hamilton is from a volleyball family and says he has had a lot of positive influences in the past. “My family has been heavily involved in the development of athletes from youth to university. I have the mind of a setter as well as good technical ability due to training with amazing coaches such as Jeremy Wilcox, Kent Greves and Rod Walsh who are all former national team setters.”
He is also looking forward to being involved in the WolfPack’s many community initiatives and being a part of a unique situation in CIS—where the sport and the team is followed intensely by the media and public. “This is appealing because it’ll make me play better for my teammates and coaches. Knowing that the community is watching and rooting for us, win or lose will be something I will keep in mind as I will work harder for them to feel proud of us. With the kind of support the WolfPack receive, I think this place (TRU and Kamloops) is a great place to go. I do want to give back for everything the game and the volleyball community has done for me in my life to shape who I am as an individual.”
Hamilton’s dad Chris has been an assistant coach in the past with both the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University program’s. He and Hennelly have known each other professionally for years. He explains why he thinks Thompson Rivers is a good ‘fit’ for his son. “As a parent, it was very important for our son to go to a coach with integrity, intensity, accountability and belief in his athletes. That is precisely why we wanted Jakob to go to TRU. I have had the opportunity to observe Pat’s growth as a coach. I believe him to be someone with high expectations and because of that, I think that Jakob and Pat will develop a strong bond both on and off the court. Pat is tough, but fair and that is what Jakob knows and respects; work hard and get rewarded for your efforts.”
“We are excited to have Jakob join our program,” said Hennelly,”I first spoke with Jakob last summer at the NTTC tournament. Mike Hawkins (former WolfPack player and assistant coach now head coach at Lethbridge College) had a lot of praise for Jakob, how he can play and his potential. I’ve known his Dad for a long time dating back to my days as an assistant coach with UBC’s women’s program 15 years ago. I think our core values align and that is an important factor. I believe Jakob is a great fit for our program and will have the opportunity to grow with our other good young recruits.”
The WolfPack plan to announce more player signings in the weeks to come.