Story, photo and audio by Cotey Paterson
The Durham Lords men’s volleyball team took part in the annual OCAA Provincial Championships February 25th to 27th, winning one game, losing two, and going home without a medal.
Ken Babcock, the director of Athletics and Recreation at Durham College and UOIT, felt the volleyball regular season went well for the Lords, creating a strong buildup to the Provincials Championships. The team took second in the regular season.
“They finished in a position to receive an automatic birth to the OCAA championships, they overcame some injuries – and those things are always tough,” he said. “It’s a long season at the collegiate volleyball level and they had an admirable season. Any time you can compete and then receive an automatic birth to the championships is a good thing.”
The team had great expectations heading into the provincials.
“They wanted a medal, like any team that gets there,” said Babcock. “The final eight is a pretty competitive group. It’s the top eight teams in the province and it’s some fantastic volleyball that’s played; it’s the cream of the crop.”
The Durham Lords defeated Nipissing 3-1 in the first game “and then ran into the Number 1 seat in the semi-finals,” he said, losing 3-0 against Humber College. In the finals, they lost 3-1 “in a heartbreaker to Mohawk.”
Babcock felt Jamie Mayer was a top player of the championship, “he’s one of our top players always. And Mike Goulding and Matt Mahorn are always some of the standout players for our team,” he said.
“I haven’t seen the roster of awards yet, but I’m sure some of our Durham athletes will receive some of that provincial recognition when they’re announced,” said Babcock.
He believes the team strived to overcome the many challenges they faced throughout the season and the championships.
“Collegiate volleyball is a long grind: they train every day, they compete provincially, they work hard, the training sessions are grueling, they represent our school proudly across the province,” explained Babcock. “And those are challenges in itself, because you have to maintain your grades, you have to maintain your academic eligibility.”
The team didn’t qualify for the national championships having lost the provincials.
Babcock and the Durham Lords men’s volleyball team are looking forward to their next season, he said, but Gord Williamson, the team’s head coach, won’t be returning next year. He is leaving the team after his thirteenth year.
Listen to Ken Babcock discuss the head coach’s retirement from the team and how they are going about finding a new one: