Spikers hoping to forget winless seasons last year

You know, for a math teacher, John Gibson has a way with words.
That’s apparent with his letter to the parents of students, who are part of the four Muskie court teams, in which he opened with a statement of emphasis:
“Congratulations! Your son/daughter has recently been chosen as a member of the Fort Frances Muskies Basketball/Volleyball team.”
Not bad.
The letter, which briefs parents on things like athletic fees, is part of a six-page booklet assembled by Gibson, who is the athletic co-ordinator for the Muskie court teams (Shane Bliss holds that position for the field and ice hockey teams).
The letter ends with another declaration: “Thank you for your support of Muskies athletics! Let’s have a great season!”
It would be more grammatically correct to say “Muskie athletics,” but why keep track of such menial things when the spotlight should be directed on the upcoming season.
Actually, the senior boys’ volleyball team already has seen action—taking part in an exhibition tournament in Thunder Bay over the weekend.
The team, which is coached by Gibson and Adrian Chapman, went 1-4 in the round-robin portion of the tournament, then were beaten 25-22 and 25-19 in the playoffs by the Kenora Broncos.
But even though they came home with a losing record, Gibson still was pleased with the effort given.
“This was a great playoff game . . . could’ve gone either way,” Gibson wrote in an e-mail relaying the results. “We made too many unforced errors [28 in two games] and mental mistakes, which is why this was such a great opening tourney for us.
“We were able to get the bugs out, work on rotation, ‘O’ and ‘D’, and get experience as a team,” he added. “Plus it was a lot of fun! I’m really happy with the way our team is coming together, and I’m super excited about the season.”
It’s obvious Gibson is an optimist rather than a pessimist, and that’s a good trait to have when dealing with a team that went winless in NorWOSSA last season.
But that was last year. This year, the team is looking like a race horse with the way their sights our focused on what’s ahead of them.
The team is made up of 14 players, including five veterans (Dave Fagerdahl, Andrew Dobie, Tyler Johnson, Scott McFayden, Jerome Tuesday, and Cole Derksen).
But they have a good crop of players who suited up for the Muskie junior team who should make an impact almost right away and be ready for their NorWOSSA opener, which takes place next Tuesday in Dryden.
“We have a great contingent of juniors that have come up like Sean Love, Scott Gurski, and Boyd Badiuk,” Gibson noted after a practice last Wednesday.
Badiuk and Gurski were part of the regional volleyball team, which was headed by Bob Kowal, a coach with St. Thomas Aquinas in Kenora, and Gibson noted on the improvement he has seen from them.
“Their skill development over the summer [was] phenomenal,” said Gibson, who will be able to see his squad develop even further this weekend when they will be in Thunder Bay for another tournament.
“Last year they were both good, but when you see the way they play now, and see their fundamentals and positioning, it’s like looking at night and day,” he added.
Juniors confident
The Muskie junior team also will be looking to for that kind of analogy by turning last year’s dreadful season upside down.
They, too, went winless in 2004 but head coach Greg Ste. Croix, who splits the duties with Toby Munro, is confident they will be able to break that goose egg this season.
“They are going to be solid,” Ste. Croix said before rushing to a meeting with the OFSAA organizing committee, of which he is the co-convener along with Terry Ogden.
“I’m very confident that this group is going to be a very competitive group,” he added. “We’ve got five returning players and it should be a very successful season.”
The junior team is carrying 14 players, which is the biggest team Ste. Croix has had in his four seasons as coach (he usually goes with 12).
So what are the expectations from a team that went winless last season? Well, the answer to that question is simple: a win. And Ste. Croix is hoping that win comes earlier rather than later.
“We’ve got to win some matches, and we’ve got to do it early,” he stressed.
The junior team will have to wait until the following weekend for their first tournament, which will be held in Kenora.
Here are the rosters for the Muskie senior and junior boys’ volleyball teams:
Senior team—David Allen, Matt Allen, Boyd Badiuk, Nathan Debungee, Cole Derksen, Andrew Dobie, Kevin Empey, Dave Fagerdahl, Scott Gurski, Tyler Johnson, Sean Love, Scott McFayden, Jerome Tuesday, and Jordan York
Junior team—Logan Allen, Morgan Anderson, Scott Barker, Justin Bujold, Mitch Cain, Garnett Cornell, David Donaldson, Kurtis Gustafson, Talbot Johnson, Evan McCabe, Jon McCoy, Aaron Oakes, and Travis Stromness