Foothills athletes power Big Country
Volleyball: Three players from Okotoks area make Zone 2 team
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 06:00 am
Three girls from three different foothills area high schools will provide the power for Big Country.
Ally Bymak, Teisha Vogel and Mikayla Welykochy are all playing power for the Zone 2 (Big Country) girls volleyball team at the Alberta Winter Games Feb. 6-9 in Banff/Canmore.
“We have four powers on our team and three of them are from around Okotoks,” said Big Country coach Michael Hoang.
Bymak caught the eye of Hoang while she was playing for the Foothills Falcons Senior girls team in the fall.
“He is a coach at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir (High School) and he just happened to see me play when we were playing there,” the 16-year-old Bymak said. “I didn’t even really know it was going on before he talked to me.”
Bymak was able to make the team despite recovering from the flu during tryouts at STS in November.
“I tried to play well and it must have went okay because I made the team,” she said with a laugh.
The five-foot-11 Bymak said the team is starting to come together despite having a short period of time to practice before the games.
“We have practiced quite a few times, but we haven’t played any games together yet, so it is kind of hard to tell how we will work together.” Bymak said. “I expect the Calgary team to do well because they have so many players to choose from, but other than that I think we have a good shot.”
Bymak said playing a year with the Foothills Falcons senior team rather than junior varsity helped her.
“I learned so much from the older girls,” Bymak said. “The game speed was so much more intense. It helped me become a better player because I was always pushing myself.”
Vogel was a power for the Holy Trinity Academy Knights JV team. She has good vertical leap and can practically dent the floor with her spike, but her defence may be her biggest strength.
Hoang said Vogel is one of the team’s top passers.
Vogel tried out for the team after hearing some gold old word-of-mouth advertising.
“Some of my older friends played on this team a couple years ago and they told me it was a really fun experience and they learned a lot,” Vogel said at a Big Country practice Sunday at STS.
“I have already learned a lot and now that the last few practices are winding down, I’m really excited.”
She emailed Hoang before the Big Country tryouts to let him know she wanted to play in the Games. As a result, Hoang came out to see her play with the JV Knights.
“After the game he told me I had a good chance of making it and he liked what he saw,” Vogel said.
“I wasn’t surprised, but I was excited because I thought I had a good chance to make the team.”
She said her strengths are her hitting and consistent serving. She modestly admits she is known for her passing.
Hoang knew Welykochy’s game the best of the three foothills players going into tryouts. He not only taught her in Grade 3, but was also her Grade 9 coach at STS last fall.
Hoang said Welykochy has improved since the end of the school season and her hard work helped solidify a spot on the team.
Welykochy said she knew she had to improve.
“I have been going to a lot of clinics and I have been playing club volleyball for the Dinos,” Welykochy said.
She still wasn’t too confident going into the tryouts.
“I wasn’t too sure if I would make it going in — there were a lot of good players there,” she said. “But I had a good tryout.”
She isn’t sure how the quartet of powers will be used at the games. Regardless of how she is used, the strong-hitting Welykochy’s will stand at the ready.
“I am really excited,” she said.
The volleyball competition starts Feb. 7 at Canmore Collegiate High School. For more information about the Games go to www.2014.awg.ca