Britt Davis, ACAC
For most people, summer is for relaxing and taking time off; for some of our student athletes though, it is used to continue their growth in their chosen sport.
The Premier ONE Volleyball League based out of Toronto and Calgary has given athletes for 3 years now a chance to play at an elite level during the summer months. The league is comprised of athletes from various levels, anywhere from CCAA, USport, NCAA, all the way up to current and past Pro Athletes. Both leagues are made up of 4 male teams and 4 female teams, 6 round robin games each, and a chance at qualifying for the Championships. One thing that separates ONE Volleyball from any other league is the game format. Instead of best 3 out of 5 with each set going up to 25, ONE decided to have games be 5 sets with each set going up to 15. This allows for more athletes to get on the court due to the longer game, but also forces teams to start off strong as there is little room to make a comeback. Not only is this league one of a kind in its format, but it is also the only semi-pro volleyball league in Canada to date.
Over the past 3 years, 54 ACAC athletes have played for the Premier ONE Volleyball league. These athletes are past, current and even future players in the ACAC. For 4th year Red Deer College Queen, Jade Van Dyke, playing on Trolley 5 Storm in the Calgary Premier League has allowed her to grow her skill set and prepare her for the upcoming season, "The biggest thing for me would be staying in shape over the summer, as well as working on specific skills that I want to get better at for the upcoming season." "It's also cool getting the chance to work with different coaches and seeing things from a different viewpoint."
Concordia Thunder's, Ethan Murray, has seen tremendous improvement in his game after his first year playing in the Premier League for the SVR Stallions, "I have already seen improvements in my game from playing at such a high speed and learning from ex-national players, pro players playing overseas, and USport athletes that are on my team. Playing at Canada's highest level league will for sure help me make an impact on the ACAC next year."
Not only does this league allow for extra reps and growth over the summer, it has also given some ACAC athletes the chance to get in touch with Pro teams and continue their volleyball career once their eligibility has run out. This is the case for Red Deer College King and ACAC/CCAA Player of the Year, Regan Fathers, "Leaving my fifth year of eligibility and heading into the pro volleyball scene, it was important to me to not only play at a high level and continue getting reps, but to expose myself to athletes who have already had lots of success internationally." Through playing in the ACAC and ONE Volleyball, Fathers has caught the eye of many professional teams overseas. But through playing in the Premier League for the Smashing Gavels, has caught the eye of locals agents, "These networking opportunities have led me to working with a Canadian agent who will aid me in my goal of becoming a professional athlete."
Having this premier league in Canada not only allows us to preserve the sport of volleyball, but also to allow others to gain knowledge about the sport. Volleyball may not be the most popular sport here in Canada, but the creation and connection of leagues will allow the volleyball community to grow and gain more attention. If you or someone you know may be interested in participating in the Premier ONE Volleyball League next season, you can find all the information needed on their website, facebook and instagram: