The Sydenham High School Golden Hawks were hoping to win the Eastern Ontario Secondary School Athletic Association (EOSSAA) title last week so their berth in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) AA Championships wouldn’t be as host school.
That wasn’t to be as the home side bowed out in the semi-finals.
However, if anything, the EOSSAA loss has only strengthened their resolve.
“We’re definitely looking to put Sydenham volleyball on the map,” said power hitter Ethan Lucas. “We’re not just a football school.”
“Boys volleyball hasn’t done as well as some of the other teams but when we came to Sydenham, we realized there was a strong sports tradition here,” said captain Dan Callender. “We know we have to pick up the torch and live up to the name.”
“We may not be known but we have to prove we’re one of the stronger teams in this tournament,” said libero Colin Jones.
Coach Bryan English said “I think they may have put too much pressure on themselves (at EOSSAA) and this may sound a bit cliché but for this one, I just hope they come out and perform . . . and have fun.
“We’re the underdog at 13th seed (of 20).”
Maybe that’s for the best. Sometimes a loss or two can bring a team together and they certainly don’t plan to go down without a fight.
“Mr. English runs a strong program,” said Lucas.
“He’s the reason I’m the player I am today,” said Jones.
“If we play our best, we definitely have the pieces,” said Lucas.
It starts with captain Callender.
“He knows Sydenham culture and he sets an example both on and off the field,” said Lucas.
“We’re fairly strong on power balls and middle balls,” said Callender. “Our offense is strong.
“OFSAA is a big deal and everybody gets nerves but if we play as a team . . .”
“We do have three or four players 6’3’’ or taller,” said Lucas.
OK, offense is a strong suit, what about the other side of the ball?
“We might be taller but we have to use that to our advantage,” said Jones. “Serve response is most important.
“We have to get the ball to our centres . . . our middle is strongest so we have to key on our middle.”
Sydenham opens the tournament Thursday at 10:30 a.m. against Essex in the main gym. They play again at 1:30 p.m. against Lasalle of Sudbury in the new gym.
On Friday, day 2 of the round robin, Sydenham plays St. Mary’s of Cobourg at 10 a.m. at Regi and against Monsignor Percy Johnson at 1:30 back at Sydenham in the main gym.
The quarterfinals begin Friday at 4:30 and 6:30 at Sydenham and Regi.
The semifinals begin Saturday at 9 a.m. at Regi with the championship match set for 5 p.m.
If you can’t make the games, they will be streamed on the SHS channels on YouTube.
Callender, Jones and Lucas wanted to acknowledge the help Miss Walsh has given them with the tournament preparations as well as the donations and support from the community and the volleyball community.