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From north, west and back

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BY LAURA DART

Cambrian is a college with over 11,000 full and part-time students in Sudbury. For athletes to compete against the rest of the province, the team travels thousands of kilometres by bus on a weekly basis. sweat travelled with the Cambrian Golden Shield men’s and women’s volleyball teams to St. Clair College in Windsor, then to Fanshawe College in London, then all the way back to Sudbury.

Despite the long travel times ahead of them, the Cambrian Athletics bus is loud and electric. The women’s team needed to win both games against the evenly ranked St. Clair Saints and the Fanshawe Falcons to make it to the playoffs. The men’s team was having a tough season and were not going to make the playoffs, but could play spoiler against a St. Clair team in a three-way tie for the last playoff spot. The last weekend of the regular season promised exciting volleyball.

Saturday Feb.11, St.Clair College, Windsor

The Cambrian women’s game was scheduled for 2 p.m. after being on the road for over eight hours and not arriving at the hotel until around 2 a.m. Jillian Vallier led Cambrian to a 3-1 win with 13 points.

The men kept their game close, but with just a little over half of their squad making the road trip, they lost the last two sets and the match 3-1. Isaac Claveau was a beast, leading the team with 11 kills and 13 points.

The women’s team waited on the bus after the men finished their game and got changed. Coach Dale Beausoleil, head coach of the women’s team, says he has loved coaching at Cambrian for the last 27 years because of their attitude.

“They’re awesome. It’s always so fun,” says Beausoleil. He looked down the bus and laughed as the girls broke out singing a Britney Spears song. He credits the role of a coach as, “Making a difference in their lives. Making some changes and helping them enjoy college.”

The men piled in about 20 minutes after the women. There was enough room on the bus for every player to have their own seat. Coaches made sure that every player was aboard so that no one gets left behind. The women’s energy traveled through the bus, even to the men, feeling down from their loss.

As the travelling begins the bus driver turns out the lights just past 6 p.m. after the sun set. This signaled the beginning of the two-hour drive. It was quiet, every one focused in on the movie Neighbors, or had fallen asleep.

On the Road, Windsor to London,
Downtime

The two teams travel together every weekend if they aren’t scheduled for games in Sudbury. They travel on one bus together, choosing movies, staying in the same hotels, eating together. The girls sat near the back of the bus, while the men sit closer to the front. Small TV screens are at almost every set of seats and blankets and pillows fill empty spots. Some athletes bring along snacks, or just wait for one of the many pit stops along the way between travels. Back-to-back games means the team just has to worry about travel on the weekend as opposed to during the week, when jobs, schoolwork and practice are juggled simultaneously.

“I have a full-time job,” says Kathryn Webb, a second-year player.

“Half of my schooling is online, half of it’s in class so I work during day, do your school in the middle, and then you have your practice at night. Then the next day you have your class, work, then practice. And every weekend you’re gone,” she says. Webb’s from Whitefish, Ont. She’s one of the Liberos on the team because of her skills in the back court.  Libero is a player that focuses on digging out spikes at the back of the court.

“I work too,” says Hayley Chisholm, a fourth-year co-captain. “I go to class when I have to and work when I have free time. My boss is super good with my schedule,” she says. Chisholm, from Sudbury, Ont., plays left side with her powerful spikes and plays at the net.

Fourth-year co-captain Kailey Bastien laughed and says, “I didn’t even try to get a job.”

“The hardest part is that we always play double headers so we’re always playing back to back,” says Tim Yu, athletic manager at Cambrian College, “Whereas GTA schools can play one game on a Wednesday and a game on a Friday,” he says.

“Where most students would have a job during the Saturday and Sunday when they have days off…unless [the athletes] find a job that works with their academic schedule during the day, sometimes in between their breaks, they don’t have a part time job,” Yu says.

Although not having money is a hard way to live, the girls agree that being on the team is well worth it and ultimately more important.

“It’s worth it. It’s worth being broke,” Bastien says. “Sometimes it sucks really bad because you have no money, but you have something above other people.  Everyone’s like ‘we went out partying, we went out shopping, yeah well we won volleyball,” she says.

Fanshawe College, London

The bus didn’t make any pit stops during the two hour drive from Windsor to London so everyone was starving. The teams decided to get dinner, so as we arrived the girls had called ahead booking a table for everyone on the bus at a Jack Astor’s close to the hotel.

On the bus the lights turned on for the people who were sleeping and the movie ended for those who weren’t, which energized a team ready to stretch their legs and grab some dinner.

Coach Beausoleil says the sudden increase in energy towards the end of the trip is normal.

“You’ll see as soon as we get back to Sudbury the noise elevates, they’re amped, the movie is off and then they start talking and start having fun with each other,” he says.

The bus arrived at a hotel, everyone hopped off the bus creating a log jam in the hotel lobby as they sorted out the room situations. The players dropped their stuff off in their room, climbed back into the bus and made their way to the restaurant.

As 30 hungry people walk into the restaurant pure terror drew across the host’s face as he tried to figure out the seating. The team was directed towards the back where two long tables were beside eachother. As a table of four walked by they stopped and asked “Is this a hockey team?” the girls giggled and the coach says “No we’re actually volleyball.” As they smiled and walked away the girls wondered how they passed as hockey players. Coincidentally, Bastien played hockey for eight years.

After eating the teams were full and exhausted, and wanted to get back to the hotels to rest.

With a 1 p.m. game, 5:30 a.m. was not wake-up call they wanted. Especially since it wasn’t on any phone or clock, it was the hotel fire alarm. Both teams were forced outside the hotel in a cold February rain. After waiting for what felt like hours (but was only about 20 minutes), we were let back inside, with an alarm that still rang for at least another 15 minutes.

Game Time Against Fanshawe

With the rude awakening, it was going to be a long second day of games for both teams.

The women were hungry for a win to clinch the last playoff spot.

In London, the men’s team climbed into the stands as the women went through warm-ups against Fanshawe. The men knew how important the game was for the women’s season. Cambrian scored the first point of the game when all of a sudden the men in the stands cheered loudly and ripped off their shirts which revealed what was written on their chests – GO CAMBRIAN. Each player had a letter on their stomach and smile on their face. Even the opposing players on the court couldn’t help but smile.

By spending nearly every weekend together, staying in the same hotels, eating meals together, close relationships and support develop between players. For some who have had to move away from home and may not be close to their family, the teams bond strongly and quickly.

After the ladies lost their first set to Fanshawe, they came back to win the next three to take the game 3-1. First-year setter Kendra Muffo tallied 40 assists in the game, all but three for the whole team.

“It was such a huge weekend for our team,” says Beausoleil. “Win and we keep our playoff hopes alive, lose and were done for the season. We worked way too hard for it to be done. So, we had to beat St. Clair and we had to beat Fanshawe. We did. So, it was pretty impressive, I was pretty proud of them,” he says.

The Fanshawe men’s volleyball team had only one loss all season, and was primed to compete in the CCAA nationals. The men’s team didn’t have much hope heading in, but still played passionately. Isaac Claveau and twin brother Lucas combined for 31 of the team’s 56 total attack attempts.

London to Sudbury (Home)

The travel back from London to Sudbury was perhaps the most harrowing, it takes a typical five maybe five and half-hours. In white-out conditions, the bus passed four cars that had driven off of the road, and the trip took almost twice as long.

At times, it felt as though the bus leaned from gusts of wind and it was driving on its three side wheels. The athletes seemed like they were happy to finally be back home. It was normal for them to be delayed on the way home, so the energy in the bus escalated the closer they got. Considering their drive to Windsor took a lot longer than expected, the drive home from London back home didn’t seem as bad.

Eventually the Cambrian bus reached the Greyhound station for us sweat reporters, but it was too late, we missed our ride home. Most of the players weren’t too concerned about their drive home, they were concerned that we missed our bus to get home and had to stay in a nearby hotel – and make our way there in three feet of snow with baggage and cameras.

But what it’s all really about for the team and their coach is having a great relationship that helps shape them as they continue with their lives.

“I moved away from home and I hated it until I was friends with all them and I was on the team,” says Samantha Stewart, a first year at Cambrian, and grew up in Newmarket, Ont. “Now I love it.” At first, she says “I hated Sudbury and then I joined the team and I’m like I think I like it now. I’m making so many new friends now and it’s just such a good experience.”

With almost 30 years of experience, coach Beausoleil says he loves to see bonds grow between teams before his eyes.

“The friendships, how you can help shape some of their lives. There’s so many clichés, but it’s so true in sport. And I always remind them you’re in college have fun; you’re only young once. Live in that moment and appreciate it and have fun,” says Beausoleil.

As for the travelling… well that’s not something that will change.

“I think the biggest thing is that you get used to it. I like living up in the north. It’s just what you do, you travel… It’s not that there’s anything we can do to prepare for it. Other than eat well and sleep well and drink lots of water. There’s really nothing we can do other than you get accustomed to it and get used to it,” says Beausoleil.

Post Season

The ladies first post-season game was on Sunday February 19 at Georgian College. A cross over game that they took 3-1. The girls took the first set (25-16) then let one go for Georgian (25-17) before coming back for the last two sets (25-14, 25-22). The ladies were off to the quarter-finals the following weekend on Friday February 24 where they took on Niagara. They started off strong winning the first set (25-18) then dropped the last three sets (22-25, 19-25, 15-25) for a final of 3-1 for Niagara. The final game was on Saturday February 25 against Fanshawe. This would end up being their last game in a consolation semifinal. The team lost in a tough 3-2 battle taking the first set (26-24), losing the next two (15-25, 21-25), getting the fourth set (25-20), until Fanshawe took the final set (16-14). An impressive season for a team that didn’t think they would make it to the post-season a couple months before.

How Far Do They Really Go?

5,995.5 km. The distance it would take if you were to drive through Canada from St. Johns, N.L. to Vancouver, B.C. They could’ve travelled across Canada with all their away games! That’s how many kilometres they travelled throughout their nine regular season away games and two post-season tournaments. The first regular season game was on October 29, but that was only at Collège Boréal, another college in Sudbury. Their first big travel was on November 18-19 when they went to Mohawk College and Redeemer University College. All their travelling works out to be about 62 straight hours of driving, and that’s all calculated without any traffic. That would be amazing wouldn’t it? Thinking back to the weekend of February 11 to 12 alone it took 10 hours on a drive that should’ve been seven, and to get from London to Sudbury it took about eight hours when it would’ve been about five and a half. That’s Canadian winters for you and living up north. You can never be sure what the weather will be like and have to be prepared for the worst.

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