By Scott Schmidt
Southern Alberta Newspapers
It’s been a few years now since there were enough bodies to have boys’ volleyball at Foremost School, but so much interest exists on the girls’ side, they’re able to put together two teams this season.
With 16 girls from grades 10-12, Foremost is running with both a JV and senior squad this season, and with some high-end talent coming up, the head coach expects this year to be a show of strength.
“Most of these girls coming up have played together (for years), and they’ve got really good team work and communication,” says Kasey Hellar, a volunteer coach with the team for the past four years. “They know how to play with each other, and they all get along really well.
“It’s a very happy team, they have a lot of fun out there.”
The girls’ program in Foremost has been building toward something, and after narrowly missing out on a trip to provincials last season, the sights for this group are set on getting over that hump.
“I’m really excited for this group of girls coming up,” Hellar says. “There are some pretty amazing athletes coming into Grade 10 now. I can’t even imagine what this team will look like when they get to their senior year.”
Hellar says the real strength of this year’s group is in its youth, boasting a dozen players in Grade 11 or younger, paired with a quartet of seniors — Hannah Walsh, Peyton Harty, Tristan Ferguson and Sascha Beacome — that will ensure the leadership is there while their younger teammates get acclimated with the level of play.
“I really think this year and next are going to be big years for us,” Hellar says.
Foremost competes in the province as a 1A school, which pits them against similar-sized programs across Alberta. But during the season, the club plays alongside much larger schools from southern Alberta, such as those in Medicine Hat. While it certainly adds to the challenge for outlying towns, that added regular season competition helps teams like Foremost prepare for the playoffs.
“Even last weekend when we were in Black Diamond (for a tournament), we had a 24-26 loss to McCoy, and they’re one of the top schools in southern Alberta,” Hellar says. “So we were really proud of our girls for that. We’re just a strong team, I believe, and we play well together — that’s one of our biggest strengths.”
A third-place finish at zone championships last year has the group hungry to reach further heights. With arguably the strongest group of Grade 10s available since Hellar took the coaching reins, it’s no surprise they have lofty goals for this season and beyond.
That potential is already showing, with a pair of third-place finishes at tournaments already and a 1-1 record in league play — five-set loss to Hat High and straight-set wins over St. Michael’s. It’s a modest but promising start for the youthful group.
“A big goal of ours is to make it to provincials this year,” Hellar says. “I really believe we have the potential to do that.”