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Northern Chill prospects strive for the extraordinary

Once again, there is very little that is ordinary with the process that has led to the selection of provincial camp candidates by the Ontario Volleyball Association (OVA) this summer. The pandemic has made the entire process far different than usual.

What is becoming run of the mill, however, is that those very OVA rosters are dotted with local talent, with no less than five Sudbury members of the Northern Chill Volleyball Club making the cut in 2021 - with a sixth one added in if you include North Bay native Jude Caruso.

Some have been mainstays, including the likes of Jacob Schweyer (Team Ontario Elite - Canada Games bubble), Alexia Lemay-Evans and Kameryn Vanwallegham (Team Ontario bubble), as well as Harrison Wilson (Team Ontario - Beach). But for the likes of Cale Bast and Kyle Perreault (as well as Caruso), this is a bit more of a first time breakthrough.

“I want to get the experience to be able to play post-secondary volleyball - and I think I’m going to get exactly that out of it,” said Bast, a 16 year old left side hitter at Lasalle Secondary. On this particular evening, Bast was busy working out in the famed backyard court that is housed at the rear of the McRae Heights property that belongs to the parents of Dale, Stephen and Dolly Beausoleil.

And as usual, the long-time Cambrian College coach is doing everything that he can to help out anyone with a sincere interest in volleyball. “My motivation has been down, but Mr B (Dale Beausoleil) has helped a lot with that now,” said Bast. “My ball control is really sloppy right now, not how it was.”

“We were just playing pepper so that I can work on my arm swings and stuff, making sure that there is more control. With my platform, I need to make sure I keep it together so that it stays where I want the ball to go.”

Coming off a winter that has resembled few others, Beausoleil is fully aware that countless athletes are playing catch-up heading into the summer. “Cale hasn’t touched a ball with me since the end of the junior boys season (November),” said Beausoleil. “He got a little bit of club in, but then nothing, nothing at all.”

“Right now, it’s just touches on the ball. We want to do some fitness, movement on the sand, which will be really important for him. We’ve got to get his cardio back; a little bit of cardio, a little bit of strength. And there has to be something every night: whether it’s bike riding, whether it’s tennis, whether it’s on the beach court, whether it’s working out, there is something that has to be happening every single night.”

Much like Bast and the others, Kyle Perreault is one of those committed athletes that coaches like Beausoleil so enjoy working with. With only a practice or two a week scheduled this winter, the grade 10 student at ES catholique l’Horizon approached Beausoleil about also jumping in to join the workouts of the U18 Chill squad, a team which included his older brother, Noah.

“I got more hours in, which helped me develop more, got to hear from more coaches, different perspectives,” said Perreault, who worked his way through the OVA regional program during the summer following grade eight. “With the older group, we did more skills-based drills. With my team, we were doing more game play situations, stuff like that.”

One of thirty young men from the class of 2005 (born in 2005) selected to attend the July camp setting in Niagara Falls (lockdown completion permitting), Perreault has worked on specific parts of his game that will be crucial as he attempts to establish a presence on the left side, moving forward.

“We did a lot of serving practices, which was good,” he said. “I wasn’t a strong server; I would give easy weak serves to the other team. And I worked on my passing as well. I used to be shorter, so my stance was different. I grew, but I was still passing as though I was short and my passes would be off.”

That said, the man who has seen countless local products make their way to post-secondary volleyball is thrilled with the opportunities being given to Bast, Perreault and the rest of the crew.

“It’s important for them to compete against kids at another caliber,” said Beausoleil. “You look at Cale and he’s our superstar on our high-school team. But he’s going to go down there and there’s going to be kids that are better than him. He’s going to see what it takes to get better. He’s going to see some amazing kids the same age as him.”

“Hopefully it’s going to push him, it’s going to ignite that fire.”

And if it does, maybe, just maybe, we’ll be seeing something extraordinary from local volleyball talent in the years ahead.

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