A local volleyball coach is hoping to elevate the sport to a new level in the district.
Terry McMahon has started 807 Selects Volleyball Club with the aim of increasing the skill levels of volleyball players in the district and giving more opportunities for those interested in pursuing the sport at higher levels.
McMahon explained that he has done quite a bit of coaching and sees plenty of potential in volleyball players in the area who could benefit from more time and practice than the high school season usually allows.
“I've been volunteering, coaching, for Team Ontario regional programs and stuff like that,” McMahon said.
“Our athletes are just as capable as the athletes down there [in Southern Ontario], they're just not as exposed to the game, so the idea is just building the skills and hopefully our kids can take it to the next level, take the game to the next level. Also growing the game in not just Fort but the region. I want it to be a regional club, so the best athletes in the region.”
McMahon said he was set to run his first season this year, but plans were derailed due to COVID-19 related shutdowns, and though there is uncertainty about sports going forward, he said he's optimistic about the chances for the next season.
“It kinda sucked because it would have been the first boy's club that Fort ever had for volleyball, so it was pretty unfortunate and they were pretty bummed, but we're just going to keep going,” McMahon said.
“Hopefully we'll get a season this year. All fall is cancelled, but they're talking about winter, January, in Ontario and Manitoba. So far it's looking good.”
There are plans for development camps to be run during club season, which McMahon explained usually starts after the high school season is over. While COVID meant a regular camp couldn't happen this year, McMahon improvised and purchased a volleyball net that could be set up outside, and so was able to offer a camp of sorts outside at the Point, right next to the beach volleyball court that already exists there.
As the club grows in size and skill, McMahon said the plan is to also have them compete in places like Southern Ontario, where the skill level of the game is higher, though he said it's still far enough in the future that he has no locations locked in.
“I'd like to go down and compete in Ontario,” he explained.
“Winnipeg is good, but it's smaller and it's not tiered. You can play the worst team in Manitoba or the best and there's just not enough teams. I'd just like to keep it in Ontario. It's who I've coached with and I know a lot of people.”
Additionally, there's much more visibility for the sport in other parts of Ontario, which is beneficial for those students who are serious about the game.
“You don't get seen a lot in Manitoba,” McMahon said.
“So for the kids that do want to play post-secondary, there's far more coaches down in Ontario to be seen. It's kind of just a bigger of scene, and tiered, so you play to your skill.”
McMahon said he thinks the volleyball scene in Fort Frances and the area is several years behind other areas of the province, which is part of why he started his club. It's also aimed at giving those students who might not be in to “bigger” sports like hockey a place to grow, which he said he's already seeing in the athletes turning out for his club.
“I've coached boys for four years now,” he said.
“It's always been hockey players who play volleyball but these guys are interested in volleyball, in continuing and playing extra, so it's pretty exciting for me as a coach. Hockey is great but I want to show people there's other things to do, and this is a great opportunity.”
Going forward McMahon said he will be working to grow the club and bring in more athletes and coaches to continue to elevate the sport in the area, along with widening the ages and skill levels of those taking part.
“It started with my boys team and that was it and it was kind of just to keep them playing but now I'd like to build the club,” he said.
“More club teams, hopefully more coaches and volunteers and just get as many kids playing as possible. The need's there. I had four different girls ages playing and all want a club team and want to play some kind of club. So girls really interested, boys super interested, and I'm hoping to use these guys to get younger [athletes] interested and they can promote the game and hopefully it catches on.”
While McMahon said he is working to have a dedicated email address set up for those who are interested in taking part in the club or development camps he will run in the future, for now he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.