In recent years, the men’s volleyball team has been putting on yearly clinics for high school students free of charge. This year, the frequency of these clinics has grown exponentially. Three clinics are already under the Tigers belt this school year alone with another one planned for Tuesday, October 1 and more to follow in the coming months.
Bryan Duquette, the team’s captain, has been a part of these clinics since he started playing for the team four years ago.
Originally the clinics started as a component of the Tigers team-bonding trip every September. Wherever the team went, head coach Dan Ota would get in touch with the local high school and offer the team’s services. For two years, their team-bonding trip took them to Cape Breton.
“It was great for us to do (a clinic) there because there aren’t very many clubs for boys,” says Duquette. “The clinics serve as a tool to get young Nova Scotians involved and interested in a sport that’s ‘not very popular’ in rural areas of the province.”
Since the beginning of this school year, the team has already visited West Kings District High School and Horton High School in the Annapolis valley and last Friday the Tigers put on a clinic at École Secondaire du Sommet in Bedford. Just this morning, Duquette and his teammate, Jonathon MacDonald, dropped into Halifax Central Junior High for a quick morning practice with the team, aged 12 to 13.
Usually around seven Dal players volunteer their time to coach and mentor the junior or high school’s team. Meaning the athlete to coach ratio is approximately 2:1, an excellent advantage for improving their playing.
Clinics involve drills and run anywhere from one to three hours. And sometimes the end of clinics involves inter-squad games so the kids have the chance to watch the Tigers play.
“The university is looking for the athletic programs to increase their involvement in the community,” says Duquette.
“The goal is to improve volleyball in Nova Scotia by spreading the wealth around the province,” he continues. “And most importantly, increase the participation in the sport and serve as role models for the younger boys.”
The Tigers expertise allows the high school coaches to switch up their routines and the Dal players get a chance to teach the moves they’ve been practicing. It’s also a chance for the younger players to see some action on the next level.
“I think Nova Scotia has a ton of talent and it’s really on the rise right now,” he says.