Junior SunDogs excel on the court

The U18 Boys were one of the top teams for the Junior SunDogs Volleyball Club this past season. STEVEN MAH/SOUTHWEST BOOSTER FILE PHOTO

The Swift Current Junior SunDogs Volleyball Club reached new heights this past season, both in team results, as well as individual success on the court.

“It was an extremely successful year,” said Morgan Montgomery, Chair of the Junior SunDogs Volleyball Club Executive. “We saw a record number of athletes out this season, which allowed us to put the most teams ever on the court and enter a competitive program. We had lots of great coaches out working with our kids this year, which ultimately, when you combine all that, gives is some great results. It has been nice to see the club start to hit the top rankings in both the men’s and women’s divisions, right from the younger divisions right to the top. We are starting to make a name for ourselves across the province, which is great to see.”

Amongst the highlights for the program were a provincial championship for the 15U Girls and a silver medal for the 14U Boys. The 18U Boys also placed first in Division 1 Tier 4 at Nationals.

A total of 13 players from the Southwest suited up for Team Saskatchewan this year.

Kylie Carefoot (Swift Current) and Deserae Unger (Swift Current) are both members of the 17U Girls team. Brielle Wall (Swift Current) is a member of the 16U Girls team as well.

Swift Current’s Brooklyn Choo-Foo, Reilly Kelln, and Hannah Klassen are all members of the 15U Girls team.

Parker Bloom (Swift Current) is a member of the 16U Boys Team Saskatchewan, while Dayton Patzer (Waldeck), Brett Thiese (Wymark), and Dane Wright (Swift Current) are all part of the 17U program.

Braedon Friesen (Swift Current) and Henry Rempel (Swift Current) were both a part of the 18U Boys team, which represented Saskatchewan at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.

Additionally, Arielle Freeman (Gravelbourg) was a part of the 18U Girls team that participated in the Canadian Francophone Games this summer.

“Ultimately everybody always wants to be competitive right from your regular tournaments, to provincials, to making Team Sask,” said Montgomery. “We also like to make sure that we are giving kids in Southwest Saskatchewan the opportunity to play volleyball all year at a more competitive level. We try to give those kids that want to play at the extra high level the opportunity to do so with being on teams that maybe are training a little more, going to more tournaments, just having the bigger season and allowing them the opportunity to get onto provincial teams.”

Montgomery said the club had approximately 120 kids spread across four boys teams and six girls teams. They also had 60 kids take part in the atomic junior program.

“We have the younger programs going and we try and get those kids on the volleyball court right from the age of seven or eight they start. Then on the younger competitive teams, getting as many kids playing as possible so that we can grow those numbers and grow the sport in Southwest Saskatchewan.”

The success of the Junior SunDogs has also started to pay off for the Swift Current Comp. High School volleyball program. The Ardens won SHSAA 5A Provincials and the Colts won bronze as well in Regina last November.

“The Colts and Ardens both have great programs going. The benefit of our program is that those kids can play competitively for a whole year, rather than just four or five months, and also to be able to train here at home. Some of those kids have the opportunity to train together for an entire season or else with their same coaches, so they are training with their high school coaches for a whole year, which is what the cities are doing. Those kids are playing volleyball 365 days, so for us to compete we are having to play that game and it’s paying off. The kids that have been with us for the past few years are the ones that are winning provincials. It helps to really build that strong base with your team, whether it is in school or in club,” said Montgomery.

She added that the club still has room to grow as they move forward.

“We would love to field a team in absolutely every age division. We would love to field multiple teams in every age division if we can. We have the athletes to do that, we now need the coaches to do it and the facility space. We look to work with the community and develop some of our coaches, we have a lot of interested young coaches in town and want to keep them going in the sport and keep developing that side of it so we have the coaching to match the talent of the athletes and we can grow as a whole.”