As the last week of January approaches, both the 14u, and the 18u groups are in the final preparation stages before travelling south of the border to compete in the 2015 Mizuno Northern Lights January Thaw tournament, held annually in Minneapolis, MN at the Minneapolis Convention Centre. SHOCK teams have been traveling down to the Midwest for years in an effort to start the season with some excellent competition before the Manitoba schedule ramps up. Although both teams will be attending the same tournament, and staying in the same hotel, these two teams are on very different paths.
The 14u group will be facing their very first competition as a team, and will be using the weekend as an opportunity to get some playing time, face some great competition, and to start to see some different faces across the net than they usually do in training. The girls have been working very hard over the first 3 weeks of 2015 to get to know each, the new coaches, and the new style of play that SHOCK coaches train. For the coaching staff, results in the Win/Loss column are not the order of the day, but seeing how these athletes will react once being on the court for the first time together, being able to identify some areas for improvement as well as start to see some of the new trained skills transferring from training to competition will be exciting. For the athletes, the first achievement will be getting to put the SHOCK jersey on for the first time, and to represent not only the club and the province of Manitoba, but themselves in the right way down south. These young athletes are itching for competition and will certainly have their hands full come Friday afternoon. Good luck girls!
As for the 18u group, this first tournament is one of many in their final attempt to capture another National Championship for the SHOCK Volleyball Club. Some of these athletes have training together since middle school, while some have come and gone, with some new additions to the squad for their last year of club volleyball. Training full time for almost a month under the new head coach, Mike Burchuk (who has been working with the team for years now), the girls are ready to test themselves with stiff competition in Minnesota. This will be one of 2 American stops for the girls this season as they will skip off to Las Vegas in February for another tune up before returning home to a schedule full of Manitoba competitions. After a Bronze medal performance at the National Championships last year, the athletes are certainly hungry for a different result this year, and will be using this first weekend as a barometer to see where they need to improve or sharpen their focus before returning to Canada. A very talented and well trained group, the SHOCK 18's will be looking to improve upon their 5th place finish last year in the 18u division. They will need contributions from everyone all weekend long in order to achieve that goal, and will certainly be one of the top teams to watch at the competition this weekend.
Best of luck to both groups and check back with us for a recap next week!
SHOCK Volleyball Club