For the first time, Brandon Volleyball Club organizers have decided to merge their three different age-group tournaments into one and the results have been massive.
The Wheat City has attracted 45 boys’ club teams for the BVC Classic, which started yesterday at the Healthy Living Centre and features squads ranging in age from 13-and-under to 18-and-under. Putting on an event like this under one roof wasn’t possible before, but now that the Henry Champ Gymnasium renovations are complete at BU, BVC director Russ Paddock is excited to have all the kids in the same place to play in a single tournament.
"From a manpower point of view, it’s easier to run things on one weekend," he said. "Last year we had the new facility but we didn’t have the renovated old gym yet. Now we have the court space to run something bigger and it’s a good event.
"We’ve heard from coaches already liking the opportunity for younger players to mingle and watch some of the older games at the same time. It serves a number of purposes in terms of promotion of the game and multiple age groups from the same club can come to the tournament."
The BVC Classic is the largest boys’ club volleyball tournament in Manitoba and Paddock hopes it will do positive things for the Westman community. As the Brandon University Bobcats’ athletic director, he knows bringing in players from all over Manitoba and Saskatchewan to see the school’s facilities and talk to the coaches is huge for recruiting purposes. He also hopes hosting a big event like this will also help build boys’ volleyball in the region.
"It certainly can’t hurt it," Paddock said. "It’s good promotion to be seen as hosting a large event that’s bringing in teams from across the province and Saskatchewan and hopefully further. It’s a way to promote and help grow the game for the boys."
This year’s 17/18U event features 10 teams and will conclude tonight at 8:20, while the 15/16U part of the tournament has 20 teams and will finish today at 2:30 p.m. The 13/14U age group starts today and has 15 teams, with the final slated for Sunday at 5 p.m.
Paddock hopes the event will expand and attract Alberta teams in the future. While he feels 45 teams may be near capacity for the Healthy Living Centre, growing the event is something BVC’s organizers will look at in the future.
"We can’t do too much more if we had all three age groups in one weekend," he said. "We couldn’t accommodate many more teams unless we did use some outside gyms, so we’ll see how this weekend goes and whether there’s an opportunity to make it any larger or whether we feel we need to split it up and go on different weekends.
"Philosophically, we like the idea of having all the age groups on one weekend and some of the feedback we’ve got supports that as well."