Spike in injuries doomed volleyball team
by Blaine Meller
For the Cougars men’s volleyball team, it was a season of missed opportunities.
The Cougars finished with an 8-12 record, finishing the regular season in 11th place and missing the ACAC playoffs. The team was the only squad at Mount Royal that did not qualify for the post-season.
While the Cougars struggled with injuries most of the season, losing close to 50 man games, head coach Shawn Sky refuses to use that as an excuse for his team’s performance.
“I think we lost more man games to injury this season than we did the past four seasons combined. But that’s not an excuse,” Sky said.
“Injury means opportunity. If a player gets hurt, there is an opportunity for someone else to step in and make an impact. We didn’t have enough of that this year. We had too many players miss their opportunities.”
That means the team could, and likely will, look very different next season.
The Cougars are not only losing left side star Dan Durham for two years while he completes his Mormon mission, the squad will have two new setters. Additionally, Sky said nobody from this year’s team is guaranteed a spot next season.
During the team’s exit interviews, each player was told very specifically what he would have to work on and improve if he wanted to be part of the Cougars 2011-12 campaign.
“Playing for the Cougars and representing the university is a privilege, not a right. We were very clear with the guys on that, and very clear on what they need to work on to be successful,” Sky said.
Sky spoke about the future of the Cougars while overseeing a development mini-camp and scrimmage featuring current and former players and one recruit hoping to make an impact. Sky said the off-season will be one of recruitment, scouting and higher expectations.
“I don’t want this to sound cold, but 15 minutes after we played our final game, I was on the telephone with a recruit,” Sky said. “That’s when my off-season started.”
The student-athletes are given two to three weeks off after the season to fully focus on being just students and focus on term papers and final exams. From there, after the end of the semester, there is another two to three weeks of “individual stuff” before the squad fully disperses for the summer.
Sky expects the players to take care of themselves during this period and focus on injury care, nutrition, some skill development and maintaining and improving their strength and fitness levels.
“You can tell who worked out and took care of themselves and who didn’t. If a player puts on 10 pounds of muscle, you can tell just by looking at him,” Sky said.
“That’s the level of dedication and commitment we need. If you want to be here, the off-season is the time to prove it,” he said.
Not only is Sky recruiting locally, but he is talking to at least two international players as well. If all the logistics can be worked out, he hopes to have them here for training camp later in the summer and early fall.
Then once the season begins, the team will once again focus on its goal: to win a 17th ACAC title and eighth national crown.
Sky said he will use the successes of the past and not the failures as motivation for the team.
“Since 1964, this team has an 84 per cent winning percentage, and our goal will be the same as it was this year. We want to go out and win a national championship,” he said