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Gratton to serve advice in Niagara

By August 12, 2022No Comments
Cory Gratton, on the far right, is the assistant coach of Team Saskatchewan men’s U19 volleyball team, pictured after winning the national title in Calgary in July for the right to represent Saskatchewan at the ongoing Canada Summer Games. Five Lloyd players took part in the nationals in other age group events. Supplied Photo

 

It’s time to cheer on Cory Gratton at the Canada Summer Games in Niagara, Ont. 

He’s the assistant coach of Team Saskatchewan men’s U19 volleyball team and the sole representative from Lloydminster.

Others may know him as a teacher at Avery Outreach School with a passion for volleyball.

Gratton flies out on Sunday with the team that qualified for the Games by winning the Canada Cup National Championship, hosted by Volleyball Canada in Calgary in July.

“It was a pretty big achievement for Team Saskatchewan,” said Gratton.

It was the first time a Team Saskatchewan men’s U19 won the nationals since 2004 with five youngsters from Lloydminster taking part in provincial age group teams.

The U15 provincial girls’ team included Emerson Matthews and Shae Steinley with Norah Matthews making the U17 girls’ squad.

Titus Acson and Joshua Tocher played on the U16 boys’ team at Nationals with assistant coach Matt Peck from the Lakeland College Rustlers working the bench. 

Gratton says the nationals were a warm-up for the summer Games and an eye opener for Lloydminster players, including Rylan Teasdale, who trains with the champion U19s, but didn’t play.

He says the five who took to the court are the most number of local players involved on provincial level teams in local volleyball history.

“We do have some players here who will be Canada Games eligible for the next Canada Games cycle,” said Gratton, who twice missed his own shot to play in the Games during his younger days.

“As a volleyball player, I was between Canada Games cycles, so I was both too old and too young,” he explained.

“I think I appreciate it that much more now that I’m older. I’m really looking forward to that experience. It’s a great group of players and coaches in this group.”

Gratton is one of four coaches on the U19 men’s team and sees the Canada Games as a learning opportunity in his third year with the team.

“All the coaches bring their own unique experiences, and to learn from them and borrow ideas and discuss training methods and tactics have really been valuable,” noted Gratton.

“For most of it, I feel like I’ve just been a sponge absorbing.”

Win or lose in Niagara, Gratton will put his newfound coaching knowledge to use at the upcoming second annual Momentum Volleyball Camp at the Servus Sports Centre from Aug. 25-28.

“We’ve maxed our numbers; the camp’s full already. Our numbers have gone up since last year, so we’re really excited about that,” he said.

Gratton says revenue generated from the camp registration goes toward purchasing equipment for development programs Momentum runs for the rest of the year.

“We want to maximize training for young athletes in our community, so we’re pretty excited about that,” he said, noting there will be additional programs in September and October to watch for.

Gratton says interest in volleyball in Lloydminster continues to spike upward as the sport morphs into more of a year-round activity.

“We’re seeing more athletes from our area play on more competitive teams and get involved in the provincial team program,” he said.