In volleyball jargon, Charles Oduro is a natural-born killer. Kristian Currie can pretty much jump and kiss the sky.
Both Vernon high schoolers shocked themselves by making the Team B.C. Under 17 boys roster and then came off the bench to boost them to gold at the Western Elite Championships last weekend in Regina.
Their journey began at the Baden Cup regional tryouts in late May at UBC Okanagan and followed with provincial trials June 30 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. They were chosen from a field of 92 players and then trained at TRU from July 7-15.
“I showed them how great defensively I was and how powerful I am at the net,” said Oduro, when asked what he did to impress the coaches. “Offensively, I’m a pretty good player and I’m pretty positive so they really liked that about me for sure.
“I was doing really well in the drills and scrimmages so coming from a small town like Vernon, they don’t expect people to be that great. The majority of the people who made it were from Vancouver and bigger cities like that.”
Team B.C. head coach Nate Bennett, who runs the Capilano men’s Blues collegiate program, noticed the 6-foot-3, 175-pound power hitting Oduro right away.
“What an athletic kid he is,” beamed Bennett. “He passed the ball well and what I liked best about him was his attack and his ability to hit the block- out shot effortlessly.”
Oduro credits his development to Seaton Sonics high school coaches Andrew White (last year) and Doug and Conner Kozak.
He was surprised when told he made the provincial grade.
“To be honest, yes, because this was the highest tryout I’ve ever had. I didn’t know to expect. Everybody there was a high-level volleyball player so I was surprised for sure.”
In Regina, Oduro went to his strongest weapon for success.
“My power hitting was working the most for me. Everybody was a good hitter, but I was seeing where to put the ball and stuff and that was good for me. I went into my silent mode.
“We played really well. Besides the last game, we had only lost one set so we went 12-1. The last game was the most difficult we had faced because Alberta was really good.”
Oduro was born in Ghana, spent eight years in Reading, England and has been in Vernon the last six years. He has two older sisters.
“I’m a quick learner,” he said. “I started volleyball really late and already, I made it to Team B.C. so I classify myself as a quick learner. I understand where people come from so I’m really adaptable under different coaches.”
Currie, a Fulton Maroon, has been coached by his father, Dan, since Grade 7. Dan played college ball in Prince George and guided the Okanagan Lakers men to three straight B.C. titles.
Vernon-born and raised, Currie is 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds and plays the left side. He cross-trains by playing power forward in hockey and left field in baseball.
“They (coaches) really liked my vertical, my hard work, my hustle, defence and they really liked my passing, mostly,” said Currie, who like Oduro, turns 17 in October. “They said I was a good all-around player.”
Currie does tons of leg training to up his vertical, and has soft hands.
“He had a good Baden Cup and he’s pretty athletic,” said Bennett, of Currie. “He jumps really well and the best thing I liked about him was his passing and his serve-receiving was strong. The road is high for him.
“Both Kristian and Charles just need more experience in games. They both have a good future in the sport.”
B.C. stopped Alberta 3-2 (19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 17-25, 15-11) to strike gold in Regina.
B.C. brushed back Saskatchewan Green 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 26-24, 25-23) in the semis after sweeping pool matches 3-0 over Saskatchewan White, Manitoba Gold and Manitoba White.
“We were just communicating really well and the effort level was really high, and in the end, we just had the most heart to win the game,” said Currie, who has an older sister and younger brother. “I was on the bench cheering my team on every point, even if we lose or win it, just helping them up.”
Currie says his dad emphasizes getting down to basics first and then elevating his game play more and more every year.
Like Oduro, Currie hopes to play collegiate ball. He will send out videos and hope to get scouted at big tournaments next season.
“I have to work on my upper body and my cardio and get back in shape for the fall. I’d like to add 15 pounds.”
Currie turned down a prime vacation trip before deciding to try out.
“I was surprised. At first, I was thinking, ‘Oh no, I’m not going to make it, these guys are massive.’ But I worked my butt off to make it.”