Volleyball club moves lessons online

Ken Kellar
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Let it never be said that a pandemic can keep a volleyball club down.

Even as their seasons have been decimated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, members of the 807 Selects Volleyball Club have been kept busy with virtual training and lessons, with coach Terry McMahon co-ordinating with different volleyball coaches from across the province to cover topics that local players might not otherwise get the chance to learn.

McMahon said despite some initial headway made in 2020, it’s been a difficult year to coordinate, which is part of why the online lessons have become so valuable.

“We started out in the fall and got a gym on Couchiching, which was great,” McMahon explained.

“We had guidelines to follow, but then COVID started ramping up again so we lost the gym, which was understandable to keep everyone safe. But there was an idea Team Ontario started this summer called “The Academy,” just online activities with the kids and different coaches presenting, so we kind of ran with that idea.”

McMahon said he’s met a number of coaches through the Team Ontario program, some of whom are friends, that he said were excited to help with the virtual sessions.

“They know we’re kind of under-serviced in the north for volleyball, as far as what’s available to us,” he said.

“They’re super keen to help, so we just set up some Zoom calls with the kids and they really enjoyed it.”

One of the benefits to having the online sessions is that McMahon can draw upon the expertise and experience of his colleagues and friends in order to fine-tune the information that local athletes receive. It helps that McMahon can collaborate with some heavy hitters in the world of Ontario volleyball.

“I talk with coaches and we come up with different topics regarding the game,” he said.

“Our first one was coach Matt Schnarr, he’s the coach for Mohawk college’s women’s volleyball program, and so he covered receive and passing and strategic serving, stuff like that.”

The point of the online sessions, McMahon said, isn’t to run a set of drills or exercises in the comfort of the athlete’s own home. Rather, he explained that each session focuses on different aspects of the game that don’t often get practiced here because of the shorter seasons that volleyball players get, not to mention the later introduction to the game on a serious level.

“It’s more about learning, not as much of a practice,” he explained.

“Which is really good, because a lot of time we start so late in northwestern Ontario that we don’t get to a lot of that stuff to teach them about that part of the game, because we’re trying to teach them the basics. So even when we can’t be out on the court, it’s working out pretty good in teaching the kids the finer points of the game, especially how much more there is to actual volleyball than putting the ball back over the net. It’s been pretty cool.”

Going forward with the club, McMahon said he’s looking into delivering some volleyballs to some of the athletes so they can keep their skills sharp pending a return to a gym space. there won’t be a chance for any kind of season in the short term, but getting back in the gym will still allow the athletes to learn and train. Even with all of that going on, however, there’s still a matter of coaches.

“We did get more coaches, and that’s great,” McMahon said.

“We’re still looking for coaches or anyone looking to get involved in the program. That’s a problem we’re going to run into; we have tons of kids and not a lot of coaches. So looking for volunteers, looking to keep the kids interested and learning. for the most part the response has been good, we’ve had some challenges with kid’s internet and stuff like that, but just keeping them engaged and inviting guests.”

If you’re interested in volunteering or becoming a coach with 807 Selects Volleyball Club, visit their Facebook page or contact McMahon at tagmcmahon@hotmail.com.