Larry McKay, head coach of the Wesmen men’s volleyball team, is back at the University of Winnipeg after a summer away from the Duckworth Centre.
McKay coached the Canadian men’s volleyball B team during the month of June, and was also a member of the national team coaching staff until last week. McKay said it was an incredible experience, but he is happy to be home and back with the Wesmen.
In his absence, McKay asked Kris Funk to step in as acting head coach. Funk has been an assistant coach for the Wesmen in past seasons and has a great deal of experience.
Funk put the Wesmen through training camp and ran their practices for the first month, and McKay is pleased with the results.
“They’re in good shape, and ... pretty tired right now,” he said.
After losing a number of veterans last year, the Wesmen are a young team this year with 10 new players. McKay noted that the rookies bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the program.
He expects leadership from all returning players.
“Any of the experienced guys have a lot of knowledge of what we need as a program and what we’ve done in previous years,” he said.
In regards to leadership, the first – and second-year athletes will be expected to push themselves and their teammates, because they now form the core of the team.
McKay also explained that, unlike in other years, due to the team’s youth, the coaching staff will play a crucial role in providing leadership for the team as well.
For Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year Matthew Schriemer, this year will be hard work but worth it.
“I’m really excited for the upcoming season,” he said. “Our team will be young, but strong.”
The Wesmen opened their pre-season play against Queen’s University on Thursday, Sept. 30 in the Duckworth Centre. Prior to the game, McKay said that the match would be a big challenge for the Wesmen.
“The team that they’ll face tonight has some extremely good players on it,” he said.
The Wesmen lost the match to Queen’s in four sets, but not without a fight. In the fourth set, it was tied at 23 when Queen’s took the final two points to claim the match.
Veterans Marc Ross and Matt Dueck performed well, leading the Wesmen on the court with Ross’s 11 kills and 14 defensive digs, along with Dueck’s five blocks.
Unfortunately, the Wesmen’s starting setter, Dan Lother, who was named to the CanWest Second All-Star Team 2009-2010, is out with an injury and was not able to play last week. Whether Lother will be able to return to the line-up this year is not known at this time.
Despite the loss and injury, players like Ty Loewen can’t wait to get a few more games in the books.
“I’m looking forward to the season and great things ahead,” he said.
The Wesmen’s first league games will be held in the Duckworth Centre on Saturday, Oct. 30, when they take on long-time rivals, the University of Manitoba Bisons.
Published in Volume 65, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 7, 2010)