University volleyball players get extended opportunity to compete at Canada Games

Two university volleyball players are getting a second chance to compete in the Canada Games in Niagara, Ont., since being delayed due to COVID-19.

Jordy McEachern is a member of the women’s volleyball team at the University of Regina (U of R) and Elyse Allard plays for the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).

The two women made Team Sask’s 2021 roster for the Canada Games, but the event was canceled due to the pandemic and pushed to August 2022. The delayed event meant they would no longer be eligible to compete due to their age. However, the games extended the limit to 19 years old to make up for the lost year.

“They kind of came out and were like, ‘Hey, we’re extending the age group’ and I was kind of surprised at first that they were letting first year university students compete in this but I was super happy and was excited to go ,” said McEachern.

Now the two will look to bring their post secondary playing experience to the team of 12 athletes.

“It’s the ability to train with more mature athletes and more mature players on the court. You just learn so much more,” said Team Sask assistant coach, Lee Hamilton. “Now when they come into training camp with these athletes, they can really impart their wisdom they learned throughout their first year (of university).”

Team Sask most recently competed at the Canada Cup in Calgary, Alta. where they finished sixth out of 24 teams. It was an opportunity for the team to get a taste of the competition heading to the national contest.

“We kind of have an expectation of what to see, I mean it’s going to be high competition,” said McEachern.

“I think we can expect the teams we played to bring even more and teams we haven’t seen to play absolutely amazingly. So we’re definitely going to have to bring our A-game,” said Allard.

Teams from every province and territory will compete at the Canada Games and even though they are not expected to be a top team going in, they are using that to their advantage.

“Sax. is such a small province and people think of us kind of like the underdogs, so it’s like we can use that to our advantage, going into the competition and showing them really what Sask. can do,” said Allard.

“I think people always overlook Saskatchewan as we only have a million people in our province. So, when you’re competing against cities that have millions of people, just a selection of athletes is very wide. But we’ve got a group of athletes that’s going to come in and never give up,” said Hamilton. “It’s that Saskatchewan mentality to go out there and work hard and see what happens. We’re going to bring a lot of fun and energy to the game.”

Saskatchewan will send 377 athletes to compete in 20 sports at the games in Niagara. Both Allard and McEachern are eager to compete.

“Honestly just going there and taking in the whole experience. I’ve heard many stories from athletes going there and I’m super excited to. It’s in Niagara, I’ve never been there,” said McEachern when asked what she is most excited for.

“Probably the competition (is what I’m most excited for), and I know that’s a cheesy answer,” laughed Allard. “But it really is my most favorite part is just being in the game whether I’m on the court or not.”

The Canada Games begin Aug. 6 and will run until Aug. 21. Women’s volleyball will open their preliminary round of competition on Aug. 16 against Team Alberta.

A full list of Team Sask’s events and their schedules can be found here.

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