The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
It’s September and the school year has kicked off. Looking around campus, you see construction, beautiful new facilities and new faces among faculty and students. What you don’t see is the work being done by the men’s and women’s volleyball programs. Both varsity volleyball teams here are introducing new head coaches who are already hard at work, putting together their teams and building towards what hopes to be a successful season for both clubs.
Men’s volleyball head coach Nathan Groenveld, of Welland, is taking control of the team after two seasons with Joel Mrak at the helm.
New head coach Nathan Groenveld talks with the players before the start of their first tryout. Photo by Nick Bedard
Groenveld comes to Niagara College with a loaded resumé that features time as a member of the McMaster University men’s volleyball team, the Ontario Provincial Team and the Canadian National Team, as well as a year playing professionally overseas with the Al Khor Sports Club in Qatar.
Although Groenveld does not have as much head coach experience as previous ones had, Athletic Director Ray Sarkis says, "Nathan played volleyball at a high level much of his young career, and we believe that this has given him the skill set necessary to develop athletes."
Groenveld has high expectations for his team as long as he gets the kind of players that fit his style of play."In terms of what I look for in a player, it is pretty simple: athleticism, volleyball IQ, ball control skills and the ability to manage the game. In other words, score points while minimizing errors. For our team to be successful, we will need to serve and pass well and play passionate defense."
If he can convince his players to buy into his system, the expectations are simple: "To make the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) Final Four and to compete for a medal."
"There are a lot of good teams in the OCAA, and with the short-term turnaround of any college program, I feel like we can compete right away," Groenveld says.
The plans for the program don’t end with short-term success though, he says. "Long-term expectations are to bring the program to where we are contending for a national championship year in and year out."
The men’s volleyball team schedule is available on the Niagara Knights athletic website, www.niagaraknights.ca.
The team plays an OCAA regular season schedule, as well as three invitational tournaments across Ontario. The team will be gearing up for the Niagara College Knights Invitational Tournament they will be hosting Oct. 15-16. The home opener for the team against the Humber College Hawks. will be on Nov. 4 at 8 p.m.