One look at the old volleyball uniform – a fading blue and white muscle top with “Lady Sonics” crested on the heart above a number – and current Seaton Sonics junior girls volleyball player Sam Scott starts to chuckle.
A lot. Like full-out LOL-ing.
“I would be kind of embarrassed to wear those,” said Scott of the circa 1980s-early 1990s-style volleyball top once worn by similar junior girls players before her. “They are old. And we’re not called the Lady Sonics.”
Added fellow Grade 10 teammate Drew Barker: “And they’re not very intimidating.”
Thanks to the efforts of the newly formed Seaton Booster Club, which raises funds and recruits coaches for the school’s athletic teams, the junior girls volleyball squad was fitted with new uniforms.
And it paid off.
The girls won the North Zone title and finished third at the Okanagan Valley finals to become the first Seaton junior girls volleyball team in 22 years to qualify for provincials, where they placed 14th out of 16.
Sure, their skills played a part in getting them to the B.C. finals. But the players believe the new-look unis had something to do with it.
“We got a full set of jerseys and we looked pretty good,” said Scott.
“Seaton has this image of being not very good at sports, having mismatched uniforms with numbers taped on, and it made us feel like that too,” said Barker. “With our new uniforms, we looked like a team and felt like a team.”
The Seaton Grade 8 boys volleyball team won the zone title this year. And did so wearing T-shirts that said “WLS” on the front instead of actual volleyball uniforms.
“They had numbers on, too, but the shirts got super-faded after a couple of washes,” said team player Landon Colvin, whose mom sits on the booster club.
The idea for the club was hatched in the spring of 2014 by a concerned group of parents who noticed that the school wasn’t keeping up with the other Vernon area high schools.
“We had fewer teams, lacked organization and our gym, uniforms and equipment were in a sad state,” said Janet Gillis, booster club president.
“In talking to our own children we realized that many of them didn’t have school pride; that they were embarrassed to be from Seaton.
“Other area schools have banners in their gym, newer up-to-date uniforms and solid coaching, and our kids want to represent their school and participate in athletics. It’s been challenging to do so, given that some teams don’t run due to a lack of coaches, and when we do have a team, our uniforms are old, stained and mismatched.”
Fundraising began last spring and, by the fall of 2014, the booster club was able to replace three sets of uniforms: the junior and senior girls and senior boys volleyball outfits.
The school was able to field volleyball teams at every grade level. The senior boys also qualified for provincials and finished 11th.
Seaton has a swim team with Alex Shortt, Tate Priebe and Pascan Glanz qualifying for provincials, along with the girls 200-metre medley relay team of Shortt, Kaia Phillips, Brynne Ponipal and Abbey Bartel.
“We also have numerous other teams at our school that are lesser known, but equally successful,” said Gillis. “This year there a number of athletes playing basketball, boys soccer, junior girls soccer, golf, cross-country running and track and field.”
Close to 30 boys are playing in a spring flag football program with the intention of fielding a junior boys tackle squad in the fall.
The booster club has been, well, a big boost to the school.
“Parents who are on the committee care a lot about supporting sports,” said Seaton principal Jackie Kersey. “They’ve gone out and found coaches and managers for teams, and they’re raising money so that when our kids get out on the courts and fields, they’re confident because they have new uniforms.
“They want to see sports and all clubs thrive at Seaton.”
The booster club is starting a team uniform sponsorship drive where an interested company can purchase an entire set of uniforms (or two companies can share) for a given team.
In return, the company name will be featured on the jerseys and the company receives a tax receipt for their donation.
“It’s a great way to support active youth and have your company name or brand associated with something positive in the community,” said Gillis.
The club has a Facebook page and invites all present Seaton parents and students to like the page. The invitation extends to Seaton alumni. The page will be used to keep everyone informed of games and results.
Coaches are also needed for 2015-16 for Grade 8 boys volleyball and basketball, junior and Grade 9 girls volleyball, senior girls and Grade 8 girls basketball and senior girls soccer.
Anyone interested can contact Kersey at the school, 250-542-3361.