Airdrie native helps volleyball team win silver medal at nationals
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 20, 2014 01:33 pm
An Airdrie resident and former student at St. Martin de Porres High School got to be a part of history on March 8, as he helped his college volleyball team earn its best finish ever on a national stage.
Nineteen-year-old Michael Harrison, who is in his second year of open studies at Briercrest College in Caronport, Sask., helped the Clippers men’s team pick up a silver medal at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championships in Moose Jaw on March 8.
“It was a pretty surreal feeling for myself and everyone on our team,” Harrison said. “Our school is really small with around 700 students going to it, and to do this well against teams that have a much bigger enrollment than we do is something that we are really proud of.”
Harrison, who played as a setter for the Clippers, helped his team pull off two upsets in the first two rounds of the event, as it knocked off Douglas College from New Westminster, B.C., and Mohawk College from Hamilton, Ont.
“We came into the tournament as the sixth ranked team out of eight that were there, but we really peaked at the right time,” Harrison said. “We have always been a pretty offensively minded team, but our defence ended up being just as strong in the tournament and that allowed us to succeed.”
“From a personal standpoint, I just did what I could to help out the team,” he added.
“I wanted to do whatever the team needed from me in order to win.”
The Clippers underdog run came to an end in the finals, however, as it lost in three straight sets to the No. 1 seed Red Deer College.
“We had lost our best player (Josh Wendel) before the title game because of a injury, which made things a little bit tougher for us against one of the best teams in the country,” Harrison said.
“Even though we lost, I thought we played well against a really good team,” he added. “It was a hard fought match, and we worked through having to field an entirely different lineup than we were used to because of the injury.”
Another factor for the Clippers’ success was the fact that the team had many fans cheering them on in Moose Jaw, as Briercrest College is located 15 minutes west of the city.
“It was the craziest amount of support I have ever experienced,” Harrison said. “The gym that we played in was pretty much packed all weekend long, and that made us even more excited once we got out on the court.”
The runner-up performance for Harrison marked his final competitive game for the Clippers, as he will be moving on to university next year where he will be majoring in biology.
“I’m still deciding on where exactly I will be attending, but it’s looking like I will be going to the University of Lethbridge in the fall,” Harrison said. “I will be focusing on my studies wherever I end up going, so it looks like my time playing volleyball on a competitive basis will be on hold for a little while.”
“I had no idea what to expect when I came out to Briercrest, but it ended up being an awesome experience,” he added. “I’ve met so many nice people out here, and I have loved every second of it.”