Kamloops, BC—There is a distinct Thompson Rivers University WolfPack flavor to this year’s edition of Volleyball BC’s U-18 girls select team.
Head coach Ashley Shannik along with assistant coaches Spencer Reed and Nathan Bennett all have connections to the WolfPack. Shannik is a former player and assistant coach with the women’s program. Reed is a former player and current assistant coach with the men’s program. Bennett has been the primary assistant coach with TRU’s women’s program the last three seasons.
“As head coach, I was allowed to select my own coaching staff with Volleyball BC’s approval,” says Shannik, who is a teacher in the Kamloops Thompson School District and enters the second year of a two year commitment coaching the U-18 program. “Spencer and I have worked together on previous provincial teams and work well together. Nathan joined the coaching staff late as Dan Huzar (UBC’s women assistant coach) who was originally my first assistant was offered the Canadian FISU games national team. Nathan has been gracious to join us relatively last minute to help us prepare for the Canada Games competition in Winnipeg.”
The Canada Games are one of two events this team will be competing in this summer. The other comes up later this month (July 15-23) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That event is the USA High Performance championships. The team has been culled to 15 athletes from 83 who originally tried out last December.
Reed is looking forward to working alongside Shannik again and now with Bennett: “Knowing each other and previously working together will put us on the same page before training even starts. It’ll be great to get started right away without having a ‘getting to know you’ phase. We understand what the other coaches’ strengths are and will be utilizing those throughout training and competition.”
As a duo: Reed and Shannik won a bronze medal at the U-18 National team challenge in 2014, followed that up with a gold medal at that event along with a gold medal at the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games and a fourth place finish at the 2016 U-18 National Team Challenge.
Shannik and Bennett worked alongside each other in 2013. She was his assistant coach with the Western Elites Team BC boys program.
When asked about the team’s strengths, Shannik says: “ This group would be considered to be very young for a competition like the Canada Summer Games with most of our athletes being U-17 in an 18U competition. The 18U athletes who have earned their spot are already experienced and accomplished. We will look to them to provide a lot of leadership throughout the duration of training and competition. We will be strong defensively and aggressive offensively when we are out of system. As we progress throughout training and come together as a team, I would expect this year’s Team BC to be fast paced, full of energy, extremely competitive and lastly tenacious with a never quit attitude.”
Team BC has been training in Kelowna since July 6th. After the competition in Florida, they return to BC and will train at the Harry Jerome Sports Center in Burnaby from July 28th to August 4th before heading to Winnipeg and the Canada Summer Games which begin August 6th.
SIDE OUTS: Shannik and Reed will be assisted by UBCO assistant coach Becki Kosinski for the Florida event. One of the players on Team BC has a tie to TRU as well. Sadie Taylor-Parks of Kelowna, BC is the younger sister of WolfPack starting middle Sam Taylor-Parks.