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Harrison Wilson: Selection to Team Ontario creates a new reality

Late last month, Harrison Wilson was named to Team Ontario - Beach.

Fair to say that this changes everything.

"I feel like post-secondary volleyball was just kind of a dream for me, until I was selected to Team Ontario," said the 15 year-old resident of Val Caron. "It was always a dream, but it seemed unrealistic. It now seems much more realistic."

That's a pretty strong statement for a young man with all of just one year of club volleyball experience.

Still, athleticism can go a long way, as Wilson forged a path, like most in the area, initially on the ice. "I think I was still very hopeful in grade eight that I might make it in hockey," noted the former "AAA" player. "But by the end of that year, I knew that I was kind of a middle of the road player."

"That's when I realized that while I loved hockey, I was also very serious about volleyball. I made the decision to completely make that switch."

Thankfully, that seed had been planted a few years earlier, when Wilson's parents enrolled him in the Kabuum Volleyball Camps, enjoying summer sessions alongside coach Dale Beausoleil and his co-horts.

"I got in a little early, because I was really tall for my age, and my parents knew him," said Wilson. More than anything else, the experience provided the eldest of three children in the family (Wilson has two younger sisters) with a foundation as he signed on with the Northern Chill Volleyball Club for the very first time last September.

Making his way to being named to a provincial team, in less than a year, would speak volumes of the impressive progress that Wilson would demonstrate with his 16U club team over the course of the 2019-2020 campaign. "I feel that it's a hard question to answer, evaluating my own development as a player, but I do think that I improved a lot, learning little details about the game and how much of a mental game it is."

That mental component remains a facet of the game that is incorporated in so many different ways. "One of the things I learned a lot about this year was how to read the setter, just trying to be fast enough to get over for that block," suggested Wilson.

"But I think the thing I learned the most was when you're down, even if the other team is realistically better than you, but if you're a louder team and you have a more positive demeanour, collectively as a team, you can come out on top."

"You can completely turn a game around by just being loud."

Currently standing 6'4", Wilson has always had height on his side. Fortunately, it did not limit his options, positionally, as the grade ten Confederation Charger garnered some valuable versatility partially due to his summer commitments.

"I've always been very tall for my age, so even through elementary school, I was pegged into that middle position," he said. "But at Kabuum, I wasn't actually that tall compared to people that were older than me, so I was able to develop my passing a lot more."

"Mr B (Dale Beausoleil) is always very focused on that. I think I am about done growing, and I realize that in the future, my height is not great for a middle. I do want to continue working on my ball control and my passing, so that keeps my options open for a power and right side position in the future."

As for his selection to the provincial crew, Wilson counts himself lucky. "Because they didn't get a chance to evaluate me in person, I ended up having to send in a full game clip," he said. "I got an email back saying that I was invited to participate in Team Ontario - Beach, and I was actually very surprised."

While that involvement, this summer, might well be limited to simply on-line sessions - "they are going to do everything they can to get us back playing on actual beach courts," said Wilson - this most recent accolade has clearly heightened the focus for the well-spoken local product, more aware than ever of the work that is needed over the course of his final two years of high-school.

"One thing I have always struggled with, even in hockey, is speed and foot speed," he said. "I've always been really tall, so I've always relied on my long stride to get me going. So foot speed is something that I'm really working on, and will continue working on."

"The other thing is my vertical," he added. "It's not that my vertical is low. My vertical is high enough that I can pass for athletic, but it's something that I can definitely improve."

And improvement can change everything, as Harrison Wilson already knows.

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