Jr. spikers counting on veteran leaders

Joey Payeur

Amy Wilson-Hands is a big believer in being hands-off as much as possible and let her players carry the load.
The head coach of the Muskie junior boys’ volleyball team, joined this season by assistants Shana Windigo and Terry “Goose” McMahon, is relying on her seven Grade 10 players to be even more of a guiding force than she is to the eight Grade 9 newcomers.
“I am completely impressed with how our Grade 10s have taken on a leadership role,” she lauded.
“Every single drill, they are helping the Grade 9s with direction.
“Most of our drills are athlete-led so leadership plays a big role in our gym,” Wilson-Hands added.
“Our coaching staff is not only developing volleyball players, but giving these young men skills to help them succeed in everyday situations.”
Wilson-Hands said there was no pre-set plan in terms of who she was going to have on this year’s squad.
“We didn’t worry too much about splitting the squad equally with veterans and rookies,” she stressed.
“Our coaching staff picked the best players for the team.
“Many of our players are versatile and will play different positions depending on the situation,” she added.
The returnees include middle blockers Dawson Allen and Caleb Allan, right side/setters Michael Vanderaa and Jesse Jourdain, left side Braden Bodnarchuk, libero Reed Bodnar, and outside hitter/libero Chandler Borger.
Rookies filling out the roster include setter Darian Klem, libero Peyton Avis, middle blockers Jevonte Phillips and Declan Webb, left side Ashton Cousineau, right side/setter Jaxon Gartzke, libero/setter Joshua McGinnis, and defensive specialist Matt Spence.
“We have a great group of Grade 9s this year,” Wilson-Hands enthused.
“I see in practice how fast they have caught on to tracking the ball off of a serve or hit, as we have been mostly focusing on passing,” she noted.
“We have a lot to work on still but I am confident that by us breaking our skills down and layering our drills in practice, they will catch on fast.”
Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together.
“With the progress we have made, and the buy-in from the boys that we are receiving, I think this will be a good year for them,” Wilson-Hands predicted.
“Many things will be different in terms of the team’s classroom sessions, morning practices, training, blocking systems, offensive and defensive systems for all of our athletes,” she conceded.
“But we will take it one practice, one game, and one tourney at a time.
“By the time NorWOSSA comes, we will be ready,” Wilson-Hands vowed.
The Muskies will open their regular season next Tuesday (Sept. 19) in Kenora against the Broncos.
Their first home match is set for Sept. 26 against the Dryden Eagles.