By Cal Braid
Westwind Weekly News
The Magrath Zeniths celebrated 50 years of men’s varsity volleyball this year, and to honor the occasion they’ve excelled. Coach Shane Orr, clearly pleased with the team’s achievements this year, said, “We just finished league playoffs this last weekend in Cardston. We played Kate Andrews in the final and won 25-17; 25-17; 25-22. The teams in our league are good, but all year during league we only ever dropped 3 sets, going 33-3 in sets and 11-0 in matches played. We also received some individual awards as a team this last week from the league. We had three players voted as league all-stars: Kale Orr (league MVP), Matt Payne (1st team all-star), Luke Jacobs (2nd team all-star), and I was voted as coach of the year.” Wow. Who needs to brag when the numbers do it for you?
Nevertheless, Orr remained measured and reserved. “Really though, we look at any of these individual awards as a reflection of our team and every member has contributed to these boys being recognized. It has always been a great team atmosphere and every boy is truly happy for the success of their teammates. It is what has made this team so fun to coach,” he said, perhaps revealing part of the secret for his strength as a coach: his repeated use of the word team.
The team’s record as of Nov. 15 is 47-2, and they’re ranked #1 going into the 4A zone tournament this weekend in Magrath. The Zeniths are currently #3 in the provincial rankings.
Westwind Weekly caught up with Coach Orr in early October, just before the Spruce Grove invitational and then again just after Magrath Smash later that month. Since then, the team has played in tournaments at the U of A (finishing 1st), the U of C (finishing 1st), the LCI Green and Gold (finishing 1st), and the Super South tournament (finishing 1st). Could their achievements so far be any more spectacular? Short answer: No.
Explaining the path to the provincials, Orr said, “We have zones this weekend and (hopefully) provincials next weekend. We have to win the zone to qualify for provincials, so we are just trying to approach the rest of the season like we have all year…one game at a time. We are trying to be very near-sighted and just look at the team that is in front of us, so our focus can be high. We feel like this helps with our consistency during games. We’ve also had a huge rise in support from members of the community and we feel like we’ve had a chance to really grow the game in town. We are looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd and getting them excited to watch some great volleyball for the rest of the season.”
Words of wisdom and enthusiasm from the coach of the year.