Volleyball league still going strong

Jamie Mountain

Heading up one of Fort Frances’ longest-running sports leagues is no easy task but it’s one Bev Cochrane is taking in stride.
After spending the past three years as vice-president of the Fort Frances Women’s Volleyball League, she transitioned into her new role as president back in August.
Taking the reins from Laureen Peters, who now is the league’s secretary/treasurer, Cochrane feels being able to continue the success of the league is something she is proud of.
“The biggest joy in having this role is ensuring that the league continues to run,” she remarked.
“Volleyball is something that I’ve enjoyed since I was 10 years old, when I was first introduced to the sport, so ensuring that the league runs is definitely the biggest reward.
“It’s great to see all of the old faces that have been there as long as I have because there are a handful of us that have been playing in the league for 20-plus years,” Cochrane added.
“These players are like family members; sisters that you look forward to seeing on a weekly basis,” she noted.
“It’s like a sibling rivalry–you love them but still have that friendly competitiveness.”
Although there certainly are a lot of positives with being president, Cochrane admits there are some struggles that also come with the role.
“The executive roles are all done on a volunteer basis, which–in itself–isn’t a challenge, however, the issue is that it takes a lot of personal time,” she explained.
“It takes hours, even days, of organizing schedules, dealing with team issues and grievances, reminding other teams of the rules when they have been broken, and ensuring that scores are recorded accurately.
“This takes time away from family commitments and other personal time,” she conceded.
There are 12 teams in the league this season, featuring players aged 18 and over.
Players must be on an active roster of a team that has been accepted into the league, and teams have to submit their initial roster by a certain date.
But they are able to add players to their roster until Dec. 31.
“There hasn’t always been 12 teams, however, we’ve consistently had 12 teams for the past six years,” Cochrane noted.
“We’ve previously ran the league with 10 teams and at one point, we have only had eight or nine teams,” she recalled.
“If the league was able to accommodate all the teams that had wanted to play this season, we would have had 15 or 16 teams.”
Cochrane said the league had to turn away a few interested teams this past season due to a lack of gym space.
“Most times, previous teams fill the league before we can accept new teams, which is unfortunate,” she admitted.
“We’d love to accept all teams to play but there is an issue with the logistics of this,” she stressed.
“We simply just do not have enough gym space and time.
“There are many other recreational groups that request the use of the gyms also and that’s a great thing, considering there are so many great recreational activities available in the area for all ages,” added Cochrane.
“Our league is very grateful to both the Rainy River District School Board and the Northwest Catholic District School Board for the ability to use the time and space that we have been allotted [at Fort High and St. Michael’s].
A unique part of the league regards most of the team names, as they mostly use some form of witty puns or volleyball jargon.
Those names include Take A Hit, the Volley Llamas, How I Set Your Mother, Scared Hitless, Duck and Dive, Safe Sets, Let’s Talk About Sets, Kiss My Pass, Bump It Up, No Diggity, and Bumping Uglies, with Gillons’ as the only squad using a sponsor name.
“Some teams change their names after a year or two,” noted Cochrane. “For example, No Diggity have had names like Notorious D.I.G. and G.I. Janes.
“As for the Volley Llamas, they were called One Hit Wonders last year, but I have no clue what the rationale behind their team name this year.
“Others, like my team Scared Hitless, have had that name for about 15 years as we just thought it was a cool name, especially when we could make a play on the words.
“The Gillons’ team name has been in the league since before I joined, and I think there is only one remaining team member on that Gillons’ team when I’d first joined the league,” Cochrane added.
“But even Gillons’ was also called Gillons’ Northerners at one point.”
Cochrane also said she’s felt the season has been going great so far, and lauded the hard work from new vice-president Kayla Windigo.
The league ends the season by hosting an annual tournament in April, with Cochrane noting they really could use some referee help.
“During the last few years, we’ve had some difficulty in securing refs for the games,” she remarked.
“We’ve had OVA officials like Rick “Weedy” Wiedenhoeft, who has been there for us, but we don’t need all refs to be OVA officials,” she stressed.
Those interested in helping out can contact Cochrane via e-mail at bevcochrane@sympatico.ca