Jumpstart the offence, make solid first contact, create pressure from the service line and score in a number of ways.
All key components for head coach Brad Hudson’s Douglas Royals as they prepare for the Canadian Community Colleges Association Pac West men’s volleyball season.
Fulton Maroons’ grad Kristian Currie meets all the criteria to be a Royal and has impressed Hudson in training camp in New Westminster.
“He’s doing really well,” said Hudson. “We’re asking him to make some changes and he’s been very receptive and willing.”
Hudson, 42 and entering his eighth season as bench boss, scouted Currie at club volleyball tournaments the past two years. Once Currie was on the Royals’ radar, Hudson checked with Vernon Volleyball Club coach Dwayne Remple on Currie’s progress and then signed the 6-foot-3, 175-pound left side.
“Kristian is special,” said Hudson. “He’s tough, competitive, and a rock as a teammate. Every time I watched him play, he carried a heavy load as a primary passer as well as taking a lot of the big swings when his team needed him. That kind of accountability will serve him well in our gym.”
Currie, who turns 18 on Oct. 6, rarely drops his game face. He competed in some informal summer scrimmages in New Westminster and wasn’t in over his head.
“I did good, actually. It made me feel good that I could play with the guys, who all made me feel really welcome. The coach told me I could potentially start on the left side.”
Currie won the North Okanagan Most Outstanding High School Boy Volleyball award and was also a nominee for the best all-around athlete.
He also won an all-star award as he never left the court as the Maroons, coached by his father, Dan, placed eighth at the provincial senior AA chamnpionships last season. Fulton was ranked 10th going into the B.C. playdowns but only had seven seniors, adding four juniors.
“We were up 2-0 and lost 3-2 to Okanagan Mission (Huskies of Kelowna) so we could have finished higher. We only had eight players so some juniors started for us. My brother (Landon, Grade 9) played libero for us and it was good playing alongside him. He’s good.”
The CIS Memorial Sea-Hawks in Newfoundland also offered Currie a scholarship, but he chose to stay in his home province.
“He (Hudson) watched me a lot and the Newfoundland guy got to see me at (club) nationals in Edmonton. The coach (Memorial) said he would still welcome me in two years.”
As for his strengths, Currie replied: “My athleticism and my jumping helps. My vertical is pretty good. I can jump as high or higher than guys who are taller than me.”
Hudson said the players ahead of Currie on the depth chart are only a year older, and with a 24-match schedule, Currie can expect plenty of floor time.
After a Grade 7 season at Coldstream Elementary, Currie kept playing volleyball at Kalamalka Secondary before transfering to Fulton for Grade 10.
He listed hockey, where he was a power left winger, and baseball, where he patrolled centre field, ahead of volleyball until Grade 9.
“That’s when I started taking it more seriously and people said I could go places so I started attending camps and trying to improve. I went to a UBCO tryout this winter and I could see myself playing there.”
Currie and Charles Oduro of the Seaton Sonics came off the bench and helped Team B.C. Under 17 strike gold at the Western Elite Championships last year in Regina.
He added 15 pounds through personal trainer Krishna Brown at Fitness West this summer.
“We’ve been working on lots of core and legs. I want to hit the ball harder and I’ve got to get more vocal out there. I noticed (at Douglas College) they all talk. I’m kind of shy so I’ve got to work on that.”
Currie and three roommates will share a house near the school. He will take general studies, including business, with an eye on perhaps running one of his folks’ Tim Hortons franchises in the North Okanagan.
The Royals were Pac West champions in 2012 and Currie says their main rival is the Columbia Valley Bible College Bearcats of Abbotsford.
Hudson said the Royals hope to attend a Christmas tournament in either Los Angeles or Arizona. They will share hosting a pre-season Alberta-B.C. ice breaker challenge later this month.
Carson Heppell and Tristan Loewen, who boosted the Langley Fundamental Titans to the AA provincial title last season, are also new Royal recruits.