A New Look for Lancer Men’s Volleyball
by: Derek Marshall
The Lancer men’s volleyball team taking the court, should there be a season beginning this September, is projected to be vastly different than the team that left the court last February.
It has been nearly one year since their last competitive match, which equates to one entire season of competitive play forgone for the team.
Coach James Gravelle and former team captain and first-team all-Canadian Pierce Johnson agreed that had the team been able to compete in the 2020-21 season, they were optimistic about their chances for victory.
“It was looking to be one of our stronger years,” Said Johnson. “because there were five guys in my recruiting class that would have been in our fifth year.”
Looking forward, the composition of the team will be significantly different than what would have been for the 2020 season.
According to Gravelle, the projected roster will be “quite a bit younger in terms of years of service.”
“I think 12 guys will be first-year eligibility,” said Johnson. “So, it will definitely be a different roster than our team is used to.”
With such a significant number of young players poised to take the court for the upcoming season, the older players are projected to be the minority on the roster.
“I think 4 or 5 of our starters out of the 7 are going to be gone, so it’s definitely going to be a different look,” said Steven Abrams, who played one season with the team before the pandemic. “Last year I wasn’t very experienced, and now I am sort of being thrust into a role where I’m going to be one of the most experienced guys on the court, so I’m gonna have to really work to show a nice leadership role and make sure I can get everyone fired up and ready to win some games.”
To maintain a sense of camaraderie among members and help facilitate the transition of leadership, the team has maintained weekly workouts and meetings via Zoom. Additionally, to start fostering bonds between the remaining players and the new recruitment class, the incoming class of players has been integrated into the calls.
“Those seniors, even those who have left or are leaving after this season, have been really good with welcoming in the new players and treating them like their brothers,” said Gravelle. “That’s our team culture, really tight-knit.”
As Windsor-Essex county has been deemed as being in the Red Zone of COVID-19 restrictions, the team has recently been permitted to resume practicing together once again while following rigid safety protocols.
Gravelle and the team wasted no time in getting back on the court to refine their skills in anticipation of the upcoming season.
“We have an hour on the court Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and we’ve already seen the rust getting knocked off. We didn’t train for, I believe, 96 days.”
With many calendar days until the projected start of the 2021-22 season, Abrams expressed his confidence in the work ethic and competitiveness of the up-and-coming team.
“Everyone is going to be grinding. There’s a bunch of young guys who have a lot of talent and I think if we work hard, that we’ll have some people who will fill the roles as best as possible and put us into a competitive spot.”