The two-time defending PACWEST champion Camosun College Chargers men’s volleyball team is set for another season as conference compeition gets underway this Thursday, October 13 at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.
“I think things look really good for us this year,” says Chargers Head Coach Charles Parkinson. “We have a solid core of returning student-athletes who bring years of experience to the floor and a great group of newcomers who will be pushing for minutes.”
Returning to the program is fourth-year libero Elion Wong and fifth-year Chargers veteran Tyler Remenda who moves from the left side position to join Wong in the backcourt.
“For the past four years, Tyler has been a left side player but also one of best passers and defenders, so we’ve moved him to join Elion,” states Coach Parkinson. “This gives us a terrific backcourt with a lot of experience.”
Resuming their starting positions on the leftside are Håkon Østrem who hails from Norway and CCAA All-Canadian Savana Walkingbear from Thunderchild First Nation, SK. Østrem, who begins his third year with the Chargers as team co-captain, received CCAA National Athlete of the Week honours as well as two PACWEST Conference Athlete of the Week awards last season. Walkingbear, who joined Camosun in the fall of 2015 following a three-year stint at Lakeland College, also earned double Athlete of the Week titles from the PACWEST as well as a 2nd Team All-Star award.
“Håkon is a smaller player at 5’11” but incredibly dynamic,” comments Coach Parkinson. “And we call Savana ‘Walkingbeast’ because he’s just such an incredible athletic specimen.”
Returning players who will be stepping into starting roles this year include third-year right side Gabriel Freund from Richmond, BC and second-year players Isaac Dellabough (Lambrick Park) and Harrison Archdekin (Parklands) who will occupy the middle.
“Issaac is a big personality player and he loves the game,” says Coach Parkinson. “Harrison played basketball right up to Grade 12 and then decided that volleyball was a better sport. He redshirted last year and was a little light on experience but has really made some progress this year. I see him getting lots of minutes along with team co-captain Doug Waterman who is one of the premier middles in the league. At 6’5”, Harrison has a really big jump and a really good feel for the game, so he will definitely be an impact player for us. James Cameron also returns to Camosun after a few years away. We are expecting him to bring maturity and stability both on and off the court.”
The Chargers have identified two setters, returnee Matthew Cantin and Oak Bay graduate Kyle Bourdan.
“Last year, Matthew was sort of like the understudy to fifth-year veteran Vitor Macedo, but he’s now stepped up into the starting role,” states Coach Parkinson. “Kyle, who is a local product from Oak Bay, enters the program in the number two setting position. Kyle is much more offensive minded as a setter so we’re teaching him to be more of a distributor of the ball than a points scorer from the setting position.”
Also joining the Chargers this year is Oak Bay grad Cole Beevor-Potts who was instrumental in helping his team capture the AAA Provincial High School Championship last year and Ontario product Matt Bowers who played with the very successful PacMan club in Ontario.
“We’re currently experimenting on where to put Cole,” comments Coach Parkinson. “We’d like to have him on the floor because he’s 6’5”, with long arms. We’ve had him in both the leftside and rightside position and he’s really making quick strides so I expect him to be pushing some of our starters very quickly. Matt also brings size and physicality … not only is he tall, but he’s very beefy and very strong. Both players will be really pushing for minutes and I expect them to be pretty successful.”
Coach Parkinson adds, “The beauty of the team this year is that we have a bunch of interchangelable parts. And my biggest job is going to be keeping all these players with enough playing time to make them happy and right now, one of the most difficult things I’m finding is selecting a starting lineup. How do I pick the starting seven guys that should be out on the floor?”
While many programs can only dream of having this dilemna, Camosun is taking matters a step further by planting the seeds of success early with a band of hopefuls who have the potential of making a big impact on the program next year.
“We have a few younger guys that I’m looking at to maybe join the fold next year,” says Coach Parkinson. “Dennis Candell – a Pacific Christian School setter, Morgan Humprheys – a right side out of Reynolds and Peter Jacob who is actually a transplant from the Yukon are all true first year guys who are good players but need a little seasoning. And so a year of training, especially in the weight room should put them in a really good position and provide us with continuity as we move forward.”
As the Chargers head into the 2016-17 season with their eyes on a three-peat, the successful squad knows all too well that the target has not left their back.
“Every match we play in is another team’s championship match so it puts a lot of pressure on the squad to perform,” states Coach Parkinson. “You can’t ever take a moment off – otherwise, you’re going to get beat.”
“Overall, I think there are three or four other teams who are going to be in the battle for first place. Camosun, VIU and Fraser Valley will be very competitive, but hard on our heels will be Douglas College and the College of the Rockies. COTR is such a complete unknown. We never know what’s going on up in the mountains until we see them. But we start with them this time which is a first for us in the past eight years. They’ll be on the road coming to our home gym so we’re going to do as much prep as we can, but it’s hard when you don’t know who they have.”
The Chargers kick off the season with their home opener this Thursday, October 13 as they host the College of the Rockies Avalanche. Match times 6pm Women; 8pm Men at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.