Grizzlies finding way in league play
Volleyball: Eden Valley school returns to Foothills Athletic Council
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 12:43 pm
It was truly a volleyball match in which it didn’t matter who won or lost, but who played the game.
Although the Chief Jacob Bearspaw Grizzlies were swept by the Foothills Falcons on Oct. 10, the big news is the return of the Eden Valley school to the Foothills Athletic Council after approximately eight years.
“It wasn’t so much about bringing back volleyball, but bringing back sports to the community,” said Brendan Kelly, athletic director at Chief Jacob Bearspaw. “When we started thinking about what we wanted to start with our students volleyball was a natural choice because of the interest the students already had.”
The Grizzlies have played exhibition games the past few years, but this year they made the plunge by playing in the Senior boys Foothills Athletic Council.
Dimitri Kootenay, a power, was pumped to be playing Foothills at the Comp.
“I like playing in this league – it’s fun, more competition, just for the experience of volleyball,” Kootenay said. “Foothills has such good players. It was exciting to play them.”
And the Big Birds are a little intimidating.
“It was scary but fun,” a smiling Brady Benjamin said about playing Foothills. “The way I saw the guys practice — spiking it straight down. They are good players.”
The Grizzlies also might have had bus-legs in the game – a trio of players on the eight-man roster were also participating in an overnight field trip at a camp in Bragg Creek.
“I definitely didn’t want to forfeit,” Kelly said. “We had to make arrangements to get the three kids from Bragg Creek here.”
There was no way the three players were going to miss playing the Comp.
“I didn’t want to let my teammates down,” said Kootenay said as he prepared to head back to Bragg Creek.
He added volleyball fever is going through the halls at the school approximately 27km west of Longview. He said students and teachers are asking the players how they are doing.
The Grizzlies aren’t doing too badly.
They have held their own, the Grizz lost to the two powers in the FAC, the Foothills Falcons and the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans, however they were able to down the County Central Hawks from Vulcan.
Not bad for a school in which you could squeeze its entire high school grades into a Foothills Comp classroom.
“In high school we have less than 40 kids and I have a pair of players that have never played volleyball before, but tonight it showed,” Kelly said after the loss to the 1,100-student-plus Comp.
Though it’s a return to the league, the Grizzlies are starting to develop some history in the FAC.
Despite the more than half-decade gap in playing in the FAC, there is some carryover.
The Grizzlies assistant coach, Larron Daniels, played on the squad the last time it was in the council.
“I just wanted to come back and help out,” Daniels said.
You might see more Grizzlies in the Foothills.
Chief Jacob Bearspaw School competed in the junior high school cross-country district championships in Red Deer Lake earlier this month.
The Grizz has also submitted to play JV basketball in the FAC.
The Falcons control their own destiny to take the top seed after the FAC regular season by knocking off the previously undefeated Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans 3-1 Thursday at the Comp.
“We played well it was a good victory on our side,” said Falcons coach Matt Armstrong. “STS is a strong 2A school. They have good strength on the outside and their libero, Kyle Webster is strong.
“I would expect them to go to (2A) provincials.”
The Falcons got a taste of top 4A provincial volleyball at tournament in Lethbridge Oct. 13-14.
After finishing with a 3-1 record in round-robin against tough competition — the lone loss was to the ranked Aberhart Orange, they were knocked out of the tourney by Chinook Coyotes in the first round of playoffs.
“It was unfortunate, but we will move forward,” Armstrong said. “This will make us stronger. It is humbling to be beat like that after such a strong first day.
“Better to have it happen now than a month from now.”
The Foothills Falcons’ undefeated FAC record was tested last night (Oct. 17) when they met their cross-town rivals the Holy Trinity Academy Knights. Results were too late for the Western Wheel’s deadline. Check the Wheel’s website for results. The FAC regular season will close Oct. 24 with STS hosting Vulcan and the Grizzlies travelling to HTA.
The playoffs begin on Halloween.