Well a long time has passed since I wrote my last blog post, and although a lot has happened all I can think of to write about is my team winning the national championship!
A lot of the other athletes here have made fun of our team for going so over the top in our celebrations, but for us players, the coaches, alumni and everyone else involved, our first championship in 35 years meant the absolute world.
Obviously, we couldn’t have asked for a more successful season. Tournament favourites and reigning champs Trinity Western University, our long term local rivals, were looking for their 3rd national championship in a row and were ranked #1 in the country almost all season. We had split our games with them in the regular season (1 win, 1 loss) and went on to defeat them in 3 sets in the national final to put the cherry on top of an incredible year.
There was no one secret to our success, but something that we took pride in ourselves on was the relentless competitiveness of our practices. Our non-starters would often win practice matches against our starting players, pushing them to be better every day of the week. We really were training how we wanted to play, often saying that our gameplay drills had some of the most competitive sets we played all year.
As with the end of any season we’ve had to say goodbye to some graduating players, and will soon welcome some new young talent to the squad. Our team is looking strong going into the future and if we keep our process the same, we hope to have some more successful outcomes in the years to come.
Coming back from nationals the past two years just a couple of weeks before final exams led to long nights at the 24-hour library. This year, I actually managed to improve my grades, despite our team’s need to give the trophy tours of Vancouver’s nightlife.
I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with two different very welcoming Canadian families (yes Canadians are as nice as the stereotypes say). I had my first white Christmas, went tobogganing for the first time and even saw a moose.
After the grind of the school year and a quick break to see my family and some friends in Australia, I came straight back to Vancouver for my first Summer in almost 3 years. You may not believe it but Canada isn’t always cold.
Our coaching staff have put a huge emphasis on strength and conditioning over the past year and going forward. Our team has a great culture when it comes to the weight room, and it has shown with a number of us getting PBs in jump testing (including my new spike touch of 362cm), and us all being able to stay relatively healthy through a long season. Similar to what I experienced at GMVA full time, our coaches monitor our jump loads to make sure we don’t overdo it in practices. As well as having great physios and student trainers who help us recover and stay in our best condition.
To any athletes looking to continue their volleyball career overseas; keep training hard, use the resources you have around you, and good luck!
PS. Everyone should follow @ubcmensvolleyball on Instagram!
University of British Columbia Thunderbird.