For those who have ascended the coaching ranks to the upper levels, an opportunity to cycle their way back through to the entry level of competition in their sport often provides a wonderful breath of fresh air.
Kurtis Vanwallegham is not about to dispute that statement.
“After spending so many years on high performance volleyball with the seniors, it’s nice to go back to the beginning and the simplicity of the grassroots, teaching the blank slates of a U12 age group,” he said, discussing the team that he is guiding along with U18 club member and daughter, Kameryn.
“Just the enthusiasm and willingness to learn makes every practice a joy to be part of.”
“There’s nothing like the look on a young athlete’s face when they finally figure out a skill,” Vanwallegham added. “It’s that pride and belief in themselves that motivates me to continue challenging them every day.”
And why not?
The talented group has proven to be up to the challenge. Competing at a 6 v 6 tournament in November designed for the OVA (Ontario Volleyball Association) U13 grouping, the Northern Chill Heat Wave distinguished themselves by winning a pair of matches and being right in the thick of the battle with each and every opponent they faced.
“This group is developing at a very high rate,” said Vanwallegham. “These nine girls have been a model for what is capable at the grassroots level here in Sudbury.” To be sure, the nerves were evident as the Heat Wave competed in sanctioned tournament play for the very first time.
“When this group figures it out, everyone should keep an eye on them as they go through the Northern Chill club system,” he continued. “I have a feeling that they are going to make a lot of noise.”
The nine team members of the Northern Chill Heat Wave are Macie Barlow, Olivia Cormier, Hailey Villeneuve, Carly Benedict, Morgan Gauvreau, Kendra Vanwallegham, Alexie Paquette, Brinley Evans, BreeLynn Strickland and coaches Kurtis and Kameryn Vanwallegham.