Teen spiker picked for beach squad

Joey Payeur

Adyson Wilson-Hands is going to have a bash at the beach–and then probably several hundred more.
The Fort Frances teen recently became the first Region 1 athlete, along with Dryden’s Emily Heil, to be named to the Team Ontario U16 girls’ beach volleyball roster.
“It is a honour to be selected from the High Performance Beach Team Ontario Selection Camp alongside my beach partner, Emily,” said Wilson-Hands, who was named co-MVP of both the Muskie junior girls’ volleyball and basketball teams this past year.
“This will help pave the path for athletes from Region 1, as well as indigenous athletes,” she added.
She said the differences between the indoor game and the beach one are significant.
“I like that each partner has to rely on each other as there are no [substitutes],” Wilson-Hands noted.
“They also have to mentally work out any issues as your coach cannot coach you from the sidelines,” she added.
“It just me and Em out there.
“I like indoor [volleyball] more as that is what I have been playing the longest, and beach is still really new to me, but that might all change once this summer ends,” Wilson-Hands admitted.
“My schedule is really busy starting [this] week.”
Wilson-Hands is taking part in the Fort Frances Vipers’ volleyball camp all this week at Fort High, then will leave right after for the Ontario Volleyball Association’s regional High Performance Centre in North Bay.
She will take part in the beach volleyball sessions there starting Sunday and running through July 7, then remain for the indoor session from July 9-16.
Then it’s a quick flight to Richmond, B.C. for the Nation Team Challenge Cup before dashing back east to make it in time for the North American Indigenous Games set for July 16-23 in Toronto.
Wilson-Hands will stay in Toronto to work on her beach volleyball skills at the full-time training centre from July 24-28 before hopping another plane to Hermosa Beach, Calif. for the USAV Junior High Performance Championships.
Then it’s back to Toronto for the OVA beach provincials Aug. 4-6, then on to Ottawa for the Volleyball Canada beach nationals Aug. 18-20.
Wilson-Hands’ whirlwind summer concludes with a trip to the High Performance Camp and training sessions with the University of Waterloo Warriors women’s team in Waterloo from Aug. 21-25.
Not a bad way to spend time away from school given she wasn’t even certain she would get chosen at the beach selection camp earlier this year.
“I didn’t have many expectations going in as I had only played beach volleyball once before during the High Performance Beach Camp in Florida that Emily and I were attending for development,” Wilson-Hands recounted.
“When the selection e-mail came to notify me that I had made Team Ontario, I was so surprised.”
While there, Wilson-Hands and Heil were introduced to the training methods that members of the Canadian national team have to go through.
“I was nervous but having Emily with me helped a lot,” said Wilson-Hands, who didn’t hesitate when asked what the strongest part of her novice beach game is.
“Playing defence,” she replied.
“Emily is about one-and-a-half inches taller than me, so she did most of the blocking while I did most of the passing and hitting.”
Wilson-Hands isn’t concerned her beach schedule, combined with her NAIG commitments, may end up wearing her down.
“I am use to touching a volleyball every day,” she noted. “While playing Muskies, I practised with my team [Muskie juniors] and then practised with the senior girls.
“I also did development training with the [Fort Frances] Fire ‘N Ice volleyball club two times a week.
“Once club [volleyball] started, I added in two weekend practices on top of that with the NWO Norskies [regional team],” Wilson-Hands continued.
“My mom [Fire ‘N Ice head coach Amy Wilson-Hands] and I have been in the gym weekly working on passing, jump serving, setting, and hitting.
“So that has helped me stay on top of my skills since the club season has ended,” she remarked.
Still, Wilson-Hands has modest goals for her beach volleyball exploits.
“I hope to be able to make smarter choices and continue to develop my skills overall,” she said.