Camosun Chargers men’s volleyball coach Charles Parkinson knows what it takes to win at an elite level. The Chargers are the reigning PACWEST champions for three years running, but as they prepare to defend their title this week at the University of the Fraser Valley, neither Coach Parkinson or his players are taking anything for granted. “We’ve got a giant bullseye on our back and everybody wants a piece of us,” he says. “We know that we have to play doubly hard, because every single team in the league knows what our record is, and they want to be the one that knocks us off.”
The PACWEST Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Championships run from February 22 – 24 at the University of the Fraser Valley. The Chargers are seeded third among the top six qualifying teams. After a rocky start to the season, the squad has found their groove and have won seven of their eight previous matches. “We’re peaking at the right time,” says Parkinson. “The yearly training plan that we prepare at the beginning of the season is geared towards having a peak performance when we actually need it, which is just over a week from now.”
The team is comprised of a balanced mix of veterans and newcomers, all eager to make their mark. Digital Production student Rian Plante is a 5-year veteran who has been a key member of the past three championship winning teams. He credits a team approach with the Chargers’ success on the court. “It’s about getting to know what your teammates need and how to go about supporting them,” he says. “We’ve gotten used to playing with one another and it’s nice to see that team chemistry showing up in the results.”
Coach Parkinson has high praise for his veteran player. “He’s playing the best volleyball of his life this season, and really, I couldn’t be happier with his performance,” he says. “Rian has also taken some of the young guys under his wing and that kind of maturity and leadership is exactly what you want from your veteran players.”
If the Chargers triumph for the fourth consecutive year at the PACWEST Championship, they will achieve a feat that hasn’t been done for 50 years, but the coach and players are taking it step by step and the locker room chatter is focused solely on the game ahead. “We simply want to play in the moment as much as we can, and that requires us to stay focused on what’s important; and what’s important is not the outcome – whether we win or lose, it’s the process – whether we can execute during the match and follow our game plan through to the end. Good processes bring great results!”
Plante agrees with his coach’s approach. “It feels pretty amazing to be in this position. It would be very special for this program and this group of guys to achieve that four-peat, but we can’t think that far ahead of ourselves. We’ve still got a couple games to play and we’ve got to focus on one game at a time.”
As the #3 seed, Camosun will face the sixth seeded College of the Rockies Avalanche on Thursday, February 23 at 3pm. In their most recent match up on January 25 and 26, the Chargers defeated the Avalanche in straight sets, collecting back to back wins.
Following the Provincial Championships, Camosun College will host the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Men’s Volleyball National Championship from March 7 – 10 at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence (PISE) on Interurban campus. As the host seed, the Chargers will receive an automatic berth into the championship.