By Dale Miller
Balls were spiked, digs were dug, and medals were won at the 2003 Canadian Open National Volleyball Tournament May 23-25 at the University of Calgary.
The Olympic Oval was transformed into the largest gymnasium in North America–a fitting venue for the largest volleyball tournament ever held in Canada.
“We had teams from all over the western provinces and the Yukon with 128 women’s and 64 men’s teams playing on 14 courts in the Olympic Oval and another 10 in the U of C Kinesiology Complex,” explained Terry Gagnon, Executive Director of the Alberta Volleyball Association, who hosted the tournament.
Over 3,000 athletes competed in 480 separate matches spanning the three days. But, like all tournaments, there were winners and there were losers.
“We had a record 192 teams over a beautiful weekend that ended with the crowning of a 16 ïœ| under women’s, 16 ïœ| under men’s, 15 ïœ| under women’s and 15 ïœ| under men’s Canadian Open Champions,” added Gagnon.
In the end, seven deserving teams took home the hardware. The WVC15s from Winnipeg won the men’s under 15, the WVC16s Blue, also hailing from Winnipeg, won the men’s 16 ïœ| under division one, with the Mariners from Nanaimo taking division two. The women’s 15 ïœ| under title was claimed by the Big Sand 15s from Winnipeg while the women’s 16 and under group, which was broken up into three divisions, was won by the Rage from Virden, the Kryptonite from Kelowna, and the Fog from Edmonton respectively.
This is the first official year of competition for the under 15 age category, who had an impressive showing.
In fact, the under 15’s were not included in the Canada East Open, which was taking place concurrently in Sherbrooke Quebec. This tournament boasted only 74 teams, all hailing from Eastern Canada.
Preceding the tournament on Thurs., May 22 in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium was an exhibition game between members of the Women’s Canadian National Team. Two-thousand five hundred spectators turned out to witness this clash of titans. Among the athletes on court for the national-level tilt were Dinos players Tracy Keats, Amanda Moppett, Reid Brodie, Natalie Schwartz, and Jo Niemczewska.
This exhibition match also marked the 50-year anniversary of Volleyball Canada. Dave Carey, President of Volleyball Canada opened the match by cutting the official celebratory cake–which was not, unfortunately, shared by all.