© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
UPEI Panthers' Meg MacKinnon watches her hit during practice Tuesday night.
UPEI club team opens new season next weekend with a new coach, a manager and plenty of talented players
Excitement is building as UPEI’s women’s volleyball team prepares to play its peers next weekend in New Brunswick.
The club team has a new coach, a manager and a team of 16 dedicated players. They practice four times a week and play in the women’s league at Holland College on Monday nights.
“The girls are excited to have a team. It’s something to look forward to. It’s a whole new group of friends,” said Emilie Sullivan.
The fourth-year biology student has been a driving force behind the team the past few years. The team captain said there was an amazing turnout to tryouts this season.
Despite this year’s many new faces, the team is already jelling on the court.
“We have really good chemistry and we work really well together,” said Sullivan, a 21-year-old outside hitter and Stratford resident.
Teammate Meg MacKinnon said she is impressed by what she sees on the floor.
“The talent on the Island, it can’t be hidden anymore,” she said.
MacKinnon, who plays middle, is one of four team members who played for the Island at the Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Que., this summer.
The list also includes her sister Kalie, Ellie Beck and Malary Schurman. Players from other provinces have bolstered the team and they are looking forward to next weekend’s competition at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B.
“It will be nice to get out there and show them the talent the Island has and all the hard work we’ve been putting in the last few weeks,” said MacKinnon, the assistant captain.
Josh Corkum is the team’s coach.
“He’s been awesome. He’s super dedicated,” Sullivan said. “We’re so thankful.”
The Lunenburg, N.S., native played at the University of New Brunswick and has coached provincial teams, the University of Maine’s women’s squad and at an Alberta college.
He didn’t know any of the players when he took the volunteer position, but a few things quickly become apparent.
“They’re a great bunch of girls. They really have a passion for getting this program up and running,” he said. “They’re becoming very close. It’s sort of becoming a little volleyball family.”
Corkum said the team is young, versatile, full of energy and has a willingness to learn. He believes UPEI can do well at the upcoming tournament against the host Mounties, Dalhousie Agricultural College and St. Thomas.
“They’re right on par with all of the teams in the ACAA, in my opinion,” Corkum said.
Vicki Weldin is the team’s manager.
“It’s awesome to have her on board,” Sullivan said. “She is very motivated.”
Weldin and Janice Robertson ran the team’s booster club for 18 years when UPEI had a volleyball team in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS).
Weldin said the team will be holding fundraisers in the coming weeks to help offset the costs of operating the team.
Following is the UPEI Panthers women’s volleyball club team’s roster for 2013-14:
Mark Your Calendars
A look at some of the Panthers upcoming games:
u Oct. 5 and 6 – Mount Allison tournament.
u Saturday, Nov. 2, 3 p.m. -UPEI at Holland College.
u Saturday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m. – Mount Saint Vincent at UPEI.