You’ll see a familiar site at Polson Park, in the middle of the track, if you happen to wander down on a weekday evening.
More than a dozen volleyball nets occupying the grass. Music, and upwards of 100 athletes participating in what is now the 25th year of Firehawk Outdoor Volleyball.
“We started doing this when we were young,” said Jay Jackson, current organizer of the Firehawk outdoor league. “A bunch of us were playing, then we started renting a couple of nets and started a little league of our own. Eventually, the two people who started it stopped doing it, so I took it over and started buying nets.”
Jackson, who started buying two to three nets a year, runs the outdoor league that has now branched to three times a week in the summertime. Some days, up to 20 nets get set up.
“I thought I topped out with the amount of nets and people who showed up, but it just kept getting bigger,” he said.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights from 6 until 8:30 p.m., Firehawk Outdoor Volleyball takes place. Games are to 21, two-a-side and played on grass.
“It’s been so good for families,” said Jackson. “You get so many mom and dads playing with their kids. You also get older people that come out to enjoy as there isn’t any major pressure.”
The season runs from the last week of May until beginning of August.
“You pay $80 and that gets you 10 weeks of play and a T-shirt,” Jackson explained. “It’s affordable. I don’t do it for money, I do it because I love the game.
“The beauty about this is when people go back to their school team or wherever they are playing volleyball, their skills are so much better. Especially for the first two or three weeks until they get back into it as they’re playing doubles and have to focus on all aspects of the game.”
Firehawk is also an indoor volleyball club, started by Jackson, which his daughters have competed in.
“My daughters are multi-sport athletes and the more established clubs couldn’t accommodate them, so I started up Firehawk to give them another opportunity to compete competitively throughout the winter season.”
Despite regularly going up against more established programs like SKY and Junior Heat, the Firehawks have held their own.
Recently the U17 girls team captured the provincial championship back in April, dropping just one set in six matches.
“These same group of girls have won provincials twice and are ranked ninth in all of Canada,” Jackson proudly stated.
For the outdoor league, the goal is for Jackson to run tournaments in other communities, such as Penticton and Kelowna next season. He has a couple sponsors, including Monster, where free drinks are given out occasionally on game days, Attridge and Okanagan Spirits, but is looking for more.
“My main goal is I’m trying to get help for a new trailer because I have so much stuff,” Jackson said. “It would be easier to have an enclosed trailer.”
For more information on Firehawk, visit its Facebook page.