The Argyle Pipers are back! And Boy are They Good

The Argyle Pipers are back! And Boy are They Good

Argyle is at the Big Kahuna Championships and have made an impressive 2-1 start.

For years, something has been lacking on Vancouver’s North Shore. Can you guess what that something was?

If you guessed, a Senior Boys Volleyball Team playing out of Argyle Secondary School, you’d be correct.

For more than 20 years the program sat dormant, until the Pipers Senior Boys team was resurrected this year by head coach Shon Sim – A fairly well-known coach in BC volleyball circles, having coached at Handsworth Secondary School and in Volleyball BC’s club system for the past several years.

Sim’s vision of getting more North Vancouver representation in BC High School Boys Volleyball started all the way back in 2010, when he’d routinely coach several club volleyball teams in the area of various age groups just to get more boys on the North Shore interested in the game.

And in March of 2017, Sim, some parents and volunteers got together with Argyle’s athletic counsel, and after multiple votes saying ‘no’, again and again, the Schools Vice Principal stepped in and said yes to Argyle putting together a Senior Boys Volleyball team for the 2017 season.

“On average, it’s been about 20-to-30 hours a week that I spend volunteering and trying to get more boys involved in volleyball,” Sim said. “I played growing up, and for me, it’s my way of giving back to a community that I live in.”

Argyle is fired up after a score!

Guided by Sim, the Pipers won the Lower Mainland region for Senior Boys Volleyball in their very first year back. Something, people in volleyball circles say isn’t that surprising given Sim’s resume in the sport.

“Going into our first year, the coaches that I know, know what I bring, so they said we should be able to win Lower Mainlands,” Sim said. “But, for us to come from ground zero, to winning Lower Mainlands, it’s pretty cool.”

Leading the way for the Pipers is one half of the current BC 17/18U Beach Volleyball Provincial Champions, Grade 12 player and team captain, Markus Bratsberg.

”I coached Markus when he was younger in the Club system, and the maturity of his game, even back then was so far ahead of his time,” Sim said. “The coaches will jump in and play against him and even then, he always seems to know what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go before you do.”

Along with playing competition in his own age group, Bratsberg and his partner, Matt Marthinsen routinely line up and play Pro and Semi-pro beach volleyball players during the summer.

“It’s obviously a lot different (from playing high school volleyball) because some of the men’s teams we played have 30 year’s experience in the sport, but the experience certainly helps,” Bratsberg said.

He also added that his seemingly psychic court sense comes from playing against some of the Men’s Pro beach volleyball teams in the area.

Another player the Pipers have relied on is Grade 12 player, Adam Kartusch who has played a number of years in the club volleyball system.

“Playing club is great experience because you’re going against strong players all the time and it’s really prepare us (Kartusch and Bratsberg) to be captains this year,” Kartusch said. “It’s great to be able to get the extra reps in during the high school season and I’m so thankful to all the parent and coaches who have made this happen.”

The Pipers finished the day 2-1 in Pool G play.

The rest of the results from Day 1 of AAA Senior Boys Volleyball action can be found HERE.

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Short in Stature, But Not on Enthusiasm for the Game.

Short in Stature, But Not on Enthusiasm for the Game.

Gulf Islands Celbrates!

Gulf Islands Celebrates!

When watching the Gulf Islands Secondary School Scorpions play, the first things that may stand out are their crisp passing, vocal celebrations and support of one and other. But upon second glance, you may notice a fearless and smiley, five-foot libero as the backbone of this talented team.

Yugo Uemaru arrived at the school last year from Tokyo, Japan as part of the schools international student program and began playing on the Junior Boys team. This year he is part of the Senior Boys Team and listed at an even five-feet tall – four inches shorter than any other player in the Big Kahuna BC Volleyball Championships program.

“When I started, I had no idea what volleyball was, but my coach last year asked me to be the libero because I was quick and I’m good at taking the ball,” Uemara said grinning ear-to-ear. “My favourite part is finding the players who hit really hard and digging the ball on them.”
And while digging the ball on a players who measure in at nearly a foot-and-a-half taller than Uemara may seem like a tall task that many would find intimidating, he doesn’t see view it that way.

“Volleyball has no physical contact, so I just need to concentrate on hitting the ball,” Uemara said. “I watch the ball and take the ball.”

Coach Kellie Booth is in her 26th season coaching at the school calls Uemara the heart and soul of the team.

“He never gives up and he is a student of the game,” said Booth, who is looking to improve upon the schools best finish at Provincials (fifth, 2014) this weekend. “He supports all the big guys, they know that and they let him know that too.”

After winning the Islands a few weeks back, the Scorpions come in the No. 9 seed on the AA Boys side of the draw. A seeding that Booth thinks may be a bit low, but understands why they are seeded where they are.

The majority of the team has been playing together since Grade 9, with the occasional player being added to the team this season.

“We found a fella in the library who was tall and had never really played sports, so we invited him to come out and give it a try,” Said Booth “It’s taken us a little bit of time, but I feel we’re peaking at the right time of the season and we’re pretty happy with where we are right now.”
Another player the Scorpions will rely heavily on is Team BC player, Logan Wenzel.

Wenzel plays his club volleyball out of Victoria and regularly commutes via ferry and multiple buses during the club volleyball season (January-April).

“It’s like two hours to commute to practice and 2 hours back,” Wenzel said. “Occasionally I’d have to spend the night and it can be challenging, but it’s definitely worth it.”

The six-foot-one, Grade 11 student is excited for the chance to play against the friends he made over the summer and feels a medal is a real possibility if the team plays well.

“I’m so excited to have a chance to play the top schools in BC,” Wenzel said with a big smile on his face. “One because I have some friends on some of the teams, but two, because there is going to be so much hype around the games.”

Gulf Islands Secondary School finished Day 1 of the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record in Pool C.

Past graduates from the school include, Casey Knight (TRU) and Chris Howe (UBC)

Day 1 results in AA High School Boys can be found HERE.

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Three-tiered Championships will feature 3 returning MVPs

Three-tiered Championships will feature 3 returning MVPs

By Bob Carter

Next week’s Big Kahuna BC Volleyball Championships will display plenty of panache in a fourth appearance at the Langley Events Centre.
The high school event, scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 2, has added the AAAA girls tournament this year, elevating the number of overall teams to 52. In a rare circumstance, the Championships will feature all three tiers’ MVPs from last season.

Returning are Semiahmoo’s Mike Dowhaniuk (AAA boys), Langley Christian’s Brodie Hofer (AA boys) and Belmont’s Savannah Purdy (AAAA girls). All have been Team BC players as well.

Mike Dowhaniak helping his Totem team.

Mike Dowhaniak helping his Totem team.

That’s only the top of a long list of standouts that includes Mount Baker’s Caleb Peters, Abbotsford Christian’s Cole Brandsma and Handsworth’s Kayla Oxland.
In addition, the LCS boys and Belmont girls – both top seeds – will have a good chance to repeat as champions. Semiahmoo, the defending AAA boys titlist, may have a more difficult task as a seventh seed.
Mount Baker, led by 6-5 outside hitter Caleb Peters, will go in as the No. 1 seed in AAA.

The Wild, from Cranbrook, placed 11th in the 2016 provincials, but will bring a bigger and better team to the LEC this time. Baker can put up a front row that averages nearly 6-6.
“We knew we’d have a strong team with lots of height,” coach Karley Ferner said.

The Wild, who faced some good competition at four Alberta tournaments, could be challenged in Langley by a large group that includes Delta, Earl Marriott and Semiahmoo of the Fraser Valley; Oak Bay from Vancouver Island and the Okanagan’s OKM and Mount Boucherie.
Oak Bay coach Al Carmichae sees a lot of parity in the tier and thinks as many as 10 teams have a shot at a medal.
Marriott, a Surrey school with a superb volleyball reputation, had a top boy and girl fall to injuries earlier this month. The fourth-seeded boys lost Malachi McMullin (ankle), and the second-seeded girls lost Danica Cowie (MCL). Both outside hitters were first-team provincial all-stars last fall.
The Mariners may not be done, though. The girls won the Fraser Valley title last week, and the boys finished runner-up to Delta, which was seeded second for the BCs.
Oak Bay (Victoria), the third AAA seed, is powered by 6-5 middle Cam Hayes and 6-7 setter Riley Cronk.
“We’re still on a steep learning curve,” said Carmichael, who has coached five teams to BC senior titles.



Brody Hofer celebrates.

Brody Hofer celebrates.

Langley Christian of the FVC has Brodie Hofer back after the 6-6 attacker broke two toes in August. He played the final month, helping the defending BC titlists unseat then-No.1 Duchess Park with a 3-0 win over the Condors in the George Elliot tournament final.

Carol Hofer, Brodie’s mother and LCS coach, said losing such a key player was difficult for the team at the start. “But they came together,” she said. “The team has never been about one player.”

The Lightning’s Trevor Koch and Caleb Kastelein helped fill some of Hofer’s absence and the team stayed strong until its standout returned for the last few weeks.
Second seed Duchess Park (Prince George) has an experienced team, a new head coach in former TRU setter Colin Carson, dominating hitters in 6-5 Cody Boulding and 6-6 Ryan Hampe and an athletic setter, Carter Karpenko.
The lanky 6-5 Brandsma, a member of Canada’s national U16 select team, led No. 4 seed Abby Christian to a solid season, and rising Okanagan champ George Elliot, the third seed, also figures strongly in the AA picture.
Other AA contenders include the 5-8 seeds: Richmond Christian (Lower Mainland), MEI (FVC), the Kootenay’s Prince Charles and Prince George’s College Heights, last year’s AA silver medalist.


Savannah Purdy of Belmont girls hopes to lead her team in the 2017 AAAA Girls Championships.

Savannah Purdy of Belmont girls hopes to lead her team in the 2017 AAAA Girls Championships.

Defending champ and No. 1 Belmont of Victoria was heading toward an unbeaten regular season until AA Langley Christian beat the Bulldogs in a close, 3-setter at the Red Serge tournament early in November.
Purdy, a 6-2 outside hitter who is headed to Trinity Western, said the loss might end up being beneficial. She said her team had a bad serving day but was quick to praise LCS.
“They played very well,” she said. “You have to give it to them. The match will remind us to work hard all the time.”
The Bulldogs return a full squad from last year’s group that won the championship without any Grade 12s. Returnees include sisters Hannah May, a right side who was a first-team BCs all-star, and middle blocker Gracie May.
Host Handsworth lost to Belmont in the provincial final last year in North Vancouver, and the third-seeded Royals again have a potent team, directed by setter Oxland, who is also a good hitter.
The two-time provincial all-star, a UBC recruit, exhibits diverse skills, competitiveness and leadership. Her father, Tom Oxland, coaches the Royals, and three older sisters also played high school volleyball.

Belmont has beaten Handsworth twice this fall, but Bulldogs coach Mike Toakley said the Royals’ defence is always impressive: “It’s like playing tennis against the wall.”

Teams such as Marriott, Lord Tweedsmuir and Semiahmoo of the FVC and Burnaby’s Moscrop will certainly challenge last year’s finalists, though a title rematch is hardly out of the question.
Few things are in this year’s expanded edition of the Big Kahuna BC Championships.

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Qualifiers for the 2017 BC Championships have been Determined

Qualifiers for the 2017 BC Championships have been Determined

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Coach’s Provincial Tournament Package Available for Download.

Coach’s Provincial Tournament Package Available for Download.

For teams that Qualify for the Big Kahuna Provincial Championships: Coaches must complete the Information Form & email  to

Deadline:   5:00 pm, November 20st

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