Thursday, July 18, 2024
July 18, 2024

Grade 12 volleyball players compete at high level

BY MARCIA JANSEN 

DRIFTWOOD contributor

Seven Salt Spring high school students travel off island a few times a week for club volleyball in Nanaimo and Victoria. 

Finn Hughes will be playing Nationals in April with his Victoria Volleyball Association (VVA) U-18 team and earned himself a four-year scholarship to play on the University of Guelph volleyball team next year. Izzy Nowell, who also graduates from the Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) this year, is part of the Mariners U18 team and hopes to play varsity volleyball at UBC Okanagan.  

Hughes and Nowell started playing volleyball at Salt Spring Island Middle School in Grade 8 and decided to level up in Grade 11. Hughes’ volleyball coach at GISS, Kellie Suzanne, suggested he should try out for a club team and Nowell gave the try-outs a go after she participated in volleyball camps over the summer in 2022. 

Both of them made the cut. Hughes was selected out of 300 players his age and Nowell out of 150. 

“I was surprised that I made the team,” Nowell said. “I hadn’t learned much about the specific skills because we don’t have a club team here on Salt Spring.” 

Hughes said, “We only play for a few weeks during the school season, while club volleyball runs from January until May. We are less experienced, so I didn’t expect to make the A team.”

After a successful first season, in which Hughes played one year up in the national championships, he made the team again in 2024.

“When I started last year, I didn’t know anyone. I was that one weird Salt Spring kid on the team,” he said with a smile. “This year we have the same group of guys,  some of whom are now my best friends. We are second in B.C. at the moment and we are playing nationals again in April.” 

Nowell and her team will be heading to provincials next month. 

“We have a great season so far,” she said. “Our coach is amazing, I’ve learned to put myself out there on the court and I’ve built stronger connections with my teammates. I like how we collaborate as a team and the fact that I have been able to make new friends through volleyball.” 

As Hughes and Nowell will graduate from GISS this year, this is their last year in the club league. Hughes received a four-year scholarship to play for the Guelph University volleyball team. He is enrolled in the arts program and his goal is to play volleyball as much as possible. 

“First years obviously don’t get a lot of playing time, but I want to develop myself and do as well as I can; shooting for as much rookie stuff I can do.” 

Nowell was recently accepted into the sciences program at UBC Okanagan. 

“I am in contact with the coach and I hope I can play varsity volleyball there. I just love volleyball and my goal is to keep playing. If I don’t make the team, I will sign up for an intramural league.” 

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