After two tryouts and three months of trials, the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation (CIVF) has announced its first boys and girls national indoor teams in the programme’s history. With the popularity of the Private School Association (PSA) Volleyball League, CIVF Girls Head Coach Mark Ray says the time was right to launch the programme for the vitality of the sport long term.
“One of our challenges that we’ve had the last couple competitions in volleyball is that our national team is the oldest in the event,” said Ray. “We’re playing teams whose average age is 21 or 23, and our average of 38.”
But who are Cayman’s next volleyball stars? Ray says they’ve spent months gathering interest in hopes off putting together a reliable nucleus.
“We have a good mix of players who have been playing for some time,” said Ray. “We also have some new players with a lot of potential. So the idea is to build a nucleus where we have experienced players and those who are projects.”
At first glance, the programme has identified some top athletes from other sports such as the Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association (CIASA) national standout Corey Frederick-Westerborg, and three of the countries top youth tennis players in Oskar Bjuroe, Willow Wilkinson and Lauren Fullerton. Ray says they don’t expect athletes to choose one or the other: volleyball is for all.
“They don’t have to choose,” said Ray. “What they can do is they can participate and see which sport draws them in and have opportunities.”
Part of volleyball’s biggest challenge over the years has been getting into schools and keeping the sport active. Ray says the programme are willing to upgrade the skills of Cayman’s physical education teachers as well.
“The Volleyball Federation have offered the Department of Education to have Coach Rick (Bevis) to do some professional development sessions in April, so that they can get a feel for how they can use volleyball to teach skills.”
With all the framework in place, Boys Head Coach Marcus Patterson says players who made each team are the best ones, and not just the ones who showed up.
“The tools necessary for success in volleyball are coachability, being a team player, and of course skills,” said Patterson. “We’re looking at those core values which will help build a good team and camaraderie in our efforts to grow the sport of volleyball on the island.”
Although athletes may not choose volleyball first, Patterson says with the right coaching and support, they will come around.
“Volleyball is somewhat of a late-blooming sport,” said Patterson. “We’re trying to re-educate youths in a way that they’ve never been educated in volleyball.”
The national girls and boys teams will compete in both the 2019 Under-18 and Under-19 Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championships in Jamaica 21-28 July.
Here are the CIVF’s first National Boys & Girls Indoor teams:
Boys: Adrian Anglin, Alex Cummer, Corey Frederick-Westerborg, Curtis Eldemire, Dylan Dacosta, Evan Murray, Garick Green, Jacob McMillen-Collett, Jake Serpell, James Powell, Jamie Piper, Jeremy Scott, Kayden Knapik, Liran Blake, Oskar Bjuroe, Travis Douglas, Tye Campbell, Yanick Haylock
Girls: Alia Smith, Anjia Delapenha, Chloe Bentick-Lalli, Daniela Suarez, Delaini Ducent, Denise Suico, Evie Nicholson, Geneve Magnan, Jenna Edwards, Jenny Purton, Joanna Robinson, Kaylee Scott, Lauren Fullerton, Maryn McCoombs, Megan McCoombs, Sadie Finch, Willow Wilkinson, Yesha Manoy