OLDS — The Olds College Broncos men’s volleyball team could be the best to hit the court since joining the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), head coach Ryan Marsden says.
In an email, Marsden said this year’s edition of the Broncos men’s volleyball team has a good mix of veterans and new recruits – including some international students.
Returning are veterans Jesse Stoddart, Braden Bates and Haiden Hurtig as well as Thomas Pugsley, a starting setter for the past two years.
Marsden says the veterans will provide the leadership needed to guide their less experienced teammates.
He says a “strong recruiting class” brought on to the court a couple of years ago includes Aidyn Phillips, Lee Lappenbush, Phillip Sutherland and Ryzen Walkingbear.
If all goes well in this era of COVID, three international students are scheduled to join the team. They are Matheus Franca from Brazil, Goktan Celik from Turkey and Jorge Arias Calderon from Colombia. All three are back in their home countries while the pandemic rages, but Marsden is hopeful they will eventually get to Olds.
“I could not be more excited about this group," Marsden wrote.
“They are committed and even though we are near the end of this school year, they are putting in the hard work now to best prepare them for what we think might be the best OC Broncos men's volleyball season since joining the ACAC.”
Marsden admitted this past year has been “challenging” due to COVID-19 restrictions, but "we have done so much as an athletic department to still provide a good student-athlete experience.”
For example, they’ve continued to work with Head to Head, a group of former Olympians who provide mentorship to up and coming athletes.
Perri Ford, a mental performance coach, has worked with many Olds College student-athletes. Several OC athletes have also participated in a mental health first aid course.
A strength and conditioning coach has been available to help the student-athletes as well.
In addition, each coach has found a way to run both educational classroom and on-court sessions where restrictions have allowed.
“We have been really blessed to still be able to do something, where so many post-secondary programs have not," Marsden wrote.
“This amazing support comes from the very top at our institution -- from president Stuart Cullum and other senior administrators all the way down to our fearless leader: manager of athletics Trina Radcliffe.
“I could not be more proud of Olds College and the way that we handled this year," he added.