Coming off a very successful couple of years, the Golden Secondary School Senior Girls Volleyball team is working hard to rebuild the team after losing most of its players this year.
“Players move up and move on, that’s just part of high school sports. We’ve been to provincials the last two years in a row, and last year we went in ranked seventh in the province,” said head coach Ron Ainslie.
Two players are back from last season, the rest having graduated and moved on, and a fresh batch of young talent has stepped up to take their place.
“It was a bit of a struggle at the beginning, just getting everyone to work together and to figure out where everyone was position-wise,” said Ainslie. “It’s mostly Grade 10s on the court this year.”
After an admittedly slow start, the Senior Girls Team has grown tremendously over their short season, and has already played in five tournaments, the last two of which were quite successful.
“We’ve already improved a lot. At first it was a bit tough, it was only me and Shea (Archibald-Lacasse) who had played senior level. Everyone else was getting used to it. The competition is a lot harder. But our last tournament we played really well,” said Simran Dhami, a Grade 11 student, and one of the two returning players.
Things have changed a lot from last season for Dhami. And although she is currently benched with an injury (a player landed on her foot at a recent tournament in Calgary), she is enjoying her new role.
“I was the youngest one last year. I learned a lot from my teammates, they had been playing together since Grade 8 and they all moved up together. I learned a lot last year,” she said.
“It’s really different this year. Now I’m the one helping out the other girls on the court, and I’m the assistant captain this year. It’s a lot different.”
One of the team’s recent tournaments was in Revelstoke, where they faced off against seven other teams mostly from the Thompson-Okanagan region.
“We’ve been very up and down so far this season, and that is to be expected with so many new players. I think we’ve pretty much split the season with wins and losses. We did very well in Revelstoke. We lost in the finals in a very close match to a very tough team… The fact that we were able to play with them showed us what our potential is. The girls were very excited about that,” said Ainslie.
The high school volleyball season is very short, especially for rural teams like Golden who have to travel for most of their games, and will end in a few weeks with playoffs in Invermere.
They have a couple tournaments before then, as well as their only home game of the season against Invermere on Nov. 13.
“It’s hard being rural sometimes. It’s just a challenge. We like to get as much game time as possible, and the only way to do that is to travel. So it’s a huge time commitment for the girls to be away from school. Lots of them have jobs as well, so it’s a busy season,” said Ainslie. “They’re fun to coach every year. I have nothing bad to say about them. And they’re really hard workers. We’re a young team, but we’re a strong team with potential.”