As the Camosun Chargers host the national men’s volleyball championships this week it might seem like it’s the end of the season when this is actually the very moment the Chargers started the season. Well, mentally, that is.
The Chargers earned the right to play in this week’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals, hosted at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, by winning a fourth-straight Pacwest title in Abbotsford on Feb. 26, beating the Vancouver Island University Mariners in four sets, 25-22, 26-24, 22-25, 25-14.
— Saanich News (@saanichnews) March 7, 2018
The national championships opened Thursday with the quarterfinal round, as Camosun squared off against the Keyano Huskies. The winner advances to the semifinals, slated for 6 and 8 p.m. Friday. The bronze medal game gets underway at 6 p.m. Saturday followed by the national championship final at 8 p.m. Other teams taking part include the SAIT Trojans, Géants de Saint-Jean, Fanshawe Falcons, VIU Mariners, Titans de Limoilou and St. Thomas Tommies.
Win or lose at nationals, this week is the seasonal culmination of a plan that went right for the Chargers. It started back in September when coach Charles Parkinson shared his plan with the team.
“We map out everything we need to do ahead of the provincials and then we work backwards,” Parkinson said.
So if the team is working backwards from the provincials, it’s gone all the way to the beginning, making it to nationals. Or was that forward. The point is, there is good reason the Chargers are in the fourth year of a dynasty.
They have a highly detailed coach in Parkinson (who’s also a CBC commentator and one-time Commonwealth Games medalist), and a program that has earned a national reputation with three straight trips to the national semifinals (including the 2015 national title). And the team is loaded with a mix of high-level local talent and international recruits.
“In our plan, we build on what we need to do and it’s a combination of tactical, physical and mental preparation, and it takes time for all of those things to come together,” Parkinson said.
This year the plan was tested. Having started the PacWest season with a 3-1 record, the Chargers were penalized for an ineligible player and that 3-1 record was wiped out. One of the Chargers had failed to maintain his athletic eligibility as he was a credit short from the previous year’s academic record.
“When we found out we reported it immediately. He was suspended the first half, and our first four matches were forfeited,” Parkinson said.
The players, however, didn’t flinch.
“We knew we were winning and playing well, we just kept rolling,” said Chargers fifth-year libero Elion Wong.
The team entered the provincials in third place with a record of 13-11 but were on a streak of seven wins in their final eight games of the regular season. In that regard, the Chargers weren’t surprising anyone. But, with nationals at home in Saanich, the pressure to win this year was less, and it paid off, Wong said.
Wong also credited Parkinson’s plan, saying each season basically comes down to peaking at the playoffs.
“Coach always tells us not to worry during the regular season, it’s about bringing everything together for the playoffs,” Wong said.