Jan 2014 04

Two Kelowna Volleyballers Join ‘Pack

Posted in Featured, Sports

Two Kelowna high school volleyball players are committed to Thompson Rivers University (TRU) beginning in the fall of 2014.

Cole Hanson of Mount Boucherie, a middle/outside hitter and Isaac Smit of Okanagan Mission (OKM), a libero have committed.

“I love the community aspect of the team and the business program here,” Smit told TRU.“  I also enjoy the team aspect of what is going on here at Thompson Rivers.”
Smit was first approached by TRU in 2012 at the National Club volleyball championships.   He was also considering UBCO, UCLA and the University of Hawaii.  “TRU is close enough to my home yet far enough away,” he laughs.

The 5’11” Smit says defense is his main strength. “I am not a super tall player although I play power in club and high school. I really click on the floor and am a team leader.”

He acknowledges he joins the WolfPack program at a good time.  Spencer Reed (Prince George, BC) is a fifth year player at the libero position with Matt Krueger (Abbotsford, BC) and Blake Majcher (Brandon, MB) playing that spot as well and both are fourth years.  “That was a huge factor in me signing here.”

“TRU is a great place, “said the 6’3” Hanson, who will be taking courses with an eye to achieving a Bachelor of Science with a long range goal of medicine. “ I love (Coach) Pat and this seems like a great fit for me overall.”

Smit believes the jump to CIS will be a big one.  “I like the challenges and it motivates me to play at a higher level.”

Smit’s high school coach is former UBC star Paul Thiessen at OKM—a three time junior national and four time senior national team player and five time Canada West all-star.

“Isaac is an undersized player with a big heart and a super competitive attitude,“ he says. “He has learned his volleyball IQ level needs to be really high in order to take advantage of opportunities in a game. He will run through walls to get to loose balls. His stamina to play is ‘off the chart’.  He can hold his own with anyone, very skilled in all areas of the game especially in defense and passing. Alternate shot selection is outstanding. Serving jump floats or powerful spin serves, he can do them all.”

Thiessen sees Smit’s role becoming more specialized as a libero,“ he is well suited to this and will excel under pressure of this high level play. He can have an immediate impact at the CIS level for his team.”

“This will be a huge step up,” adds Hanson of his move to CIS.  Hanson’s dad Norm played CIAU (now CIS) volleyball for UBC and was a Canada West all-star in 1986. “I’ve seen games in Kelowna at UBCO and watched the WolfPack here. It will be a big adjustment from high school.”

Both players have been playing volleyball since grade six.  Norm Hanson is involved in the Team BC program and helped coach club in Kelowna.

Smit and Hanson played for the Kelowna Volleyball Club and with Team BC in 2013.  “We get along together quite well,” Smit says. “It will be a fun time at TRU and we might be roommates when we stay here.  That will be exciting time.”

Hanson is looking forward to being involved in the WolfPack’s community endeavors and believes he can live under the expectations of being a role model and followed by the Kamloops media, who cover TRU sports extensively. “It will be different.  Our basketball program (Mount Boucherie) goes back to our elementary schools to do clinics. I am looking forward to doing the same with Thompson Rivers.”

He adds, “I hear they have some big crowds supporting TRU volleyball. I know I will be nervous playing before 1500 people but it’s something I will have to get used to.”

John McParland is the head coach at Mount Boucherie, who finished third at the recent BC high school boys “AAA” provincials.  “Cole is a big, physical kid with a strong work ethic. I think his greatest attribute at the CIS level will be his ability to block.  We used Cole as a right side this year because of his ability but he will no doubt be used in the middle at TRU and this will give him a chance to utilize his block.   Cole is the type of player who will fit in well with Coach Hennelly. He is extremely bright and works hard, he will do whatever is asked of him and he has the desire to improve.“

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