The Ponoka Secondary Campus Broncs senior girls volleyball squad had a lot to play as they hosted Hwy. 2A rival Wetaskiwin on Nov. 4, but none of it had to do with the standings.
It was the club’s last home match of the regular season and that meant the annual tradition of recognizing the team’s graduating players.
Presley McAteer, Julie Whitford, Shaelyn Goodwin, Vanessa Henderson and Rheona Morrow were front and centre for both the match and the ceremony that followed a very close five set loss (20-25, 25-12, 25-22, 19-25, 10-15) to Wetaskiwin.
“We wanted to recognize the contributions of these players, because some of them have been playing here for six years,” said Broncs head coach Ron Labrie.
“First of all, I want to thank their parents for raising a great group of girls.”
Labrie then proceeded to call up each one of the Broncs graduating players, not only to present them with some flowers and congratulate them, but also provide a few comment about their play, their attitude and their at times quirky personalities.
He began with McAteer, who played libero for the team the past two season and also played some games at setter.
“Presley is vertically challenged as you can see,” he kidded to the audience filled with friends and family of the players.
“What she lacks in height, she makes up for with intensity on the court. Not only that, but she is also one of the team’s best servers — when she gets the opportunity.
“She can be a bit sassy, but is an extremely important teammate whether on the sideline or playing incredible defence.”
McAteer is planning to head to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to become a paramedic.
“I want to thank you for your stubbornness, your coachablility and wish you all the success in the future,” he added.
Next came Whitford, whose been on the squad two year, with Labrie describing her as very accountable and demonstrating a conscientious work ethic.
“You do a great job being at all the practices, even with your work,” he said, adding Whitford is also a valued exemplary academic student.
“She has displayed a quiet confidence and leadership, and is a dependable outside player for the team. Thank you for your tireless effort and contributions.”
Whitford’s plan for next year is to study social work at the University of Calgary.
Up next was Morrow, who Labrie noted always seemed to be injured at some point.
“From having ligament, cartilage damage in her knee, rotator cuff issues and you name it, it is a miracle she can play,” he stated.
“She is one of the hardest working players on our team and is often too hard on herself. She has high expectations of her teammates as well and this is why she has been a great co-captain this year.”
Morrow is planning to go to Mount Royal University and obtain a Bachelors degree in health and physical education to become an athletic therapist.
However, Labrie felt differently, “Maybe you’ll come back and be a teacher instead because we need good people in phys ed too. Thank you for your dedication and your tenacity.”
Henderson is one of the few players that has played three seasons for Labrie and is best known by her coach for talking a million miles an hour as well as being a world-class dairy milker.
“She is our dj on the bus, lead singer on road trips and will no doubt have her own cover album some day,” he stated.
“She has been a great asset in building team chemistry, something that is incredibly important. She’s been very versatile, playing power, setter, right side and your endurance and ability to play different positions has been a great asset. Thank you for all your hard work and being a great teammate.”
Henderson’s plan is to got to Cranbrook, B.C.’s College of the Rockies to become a dental assistant.
Lastly, it was Goodwin’s turn to stand next to Labrie, another player who has been on the club for three years.
“She has been a bundle of energy and truly believe that you play for the love of the game. You are a motivating captain, a great team player and by far the best communicator on the team,” he said, adding jokingly that he has not found a cure for her love of chemistry.
“I am extremely grateful for your efforts and unwavering dedication to this program and for your contributions.”
Goodwin is planning to study education with a major in mathematical sciences.
In addition, as has become customary for Labrie, the graduating players from the visiting squad — Wetaskiwin — were also recognized for their efforts during their season.
The Broncs would have liked to have gotten the victory that night, given the fact they defeated Wetaskiwin earlier this year in another five set thriller. However, it wasn’t necessary for the the team to advance as Ponoka will be hosting the 3A girls central zone playoff tournament Nov. 16.