Briercrest College libero Jonathan Phillips has been selected to the 2014 Canadian men’s Junior National Team.
The Caron, SK native was the lone member of Team Saskatchewan who was selected to the Canadian Junior National team after representing Team Saskatchewan in the National Team Challenge Cup (NTCC) from July 15-20 at the Centre Sportif in Gatineau, Quebec. There were over 120 volleyball players participating in the tournament. All athletes must be born in 1995 or later.
The Junior National Team selection process happens from observing the athletes as they represent their Provincial teams during the tournament. Team Saskatchewan placed fifth in their round robin pool with a 0-4, before winning every game of the playoffs to place fifth in the ten team tournament.
“The first two mornings we got to train with the national team coaches,” Phillips explained. “They ran us through some drills and head coach John Barrett explained what he wanted to see. So, I focused on altering my game to what he was looking for. It was an intense tournament, definitely more intense competition than any other Provincial Tournaments that I’ve been part of before. It was my first time playing power houses like Ontario. It took some time for us (Team Saskatchewan) to gel and get confidence together, but we came together in the end to be taken seriously and felt like we belonged.”
“It has been an intense experience,” continued Phillips. “It has been fun just to be with the guys and compete for a spot on the team, but also to represent Saskatchewan. The most important thing was to be become better athletes. Coach Mark Dodds (Team Sask head coach and Canada Junior men’s assistant) reiterated this throughout the tournament, and this created a different atmosphere.”
Phillips has moved to Algonquin College in Ottawa from July 21-25 to train with the other thirteen players who were selected for the Junior National Team. Twelve of the athletes will then travel to El Salvador for the 2014 NORCECA Junior Championships form July 27-August 4. The top two teams from that tournament will earn a berth at the 2015 FIVB U21 World Championship.
“Cuba and the United States are powerhouses, so they will be our biggest challenge,” Phillips said. “We had our first practices together as team Canada today and it was great to see us gel as we went through the day.”
Phillips is thankful for how his year as an injured red-shirt at Briercrest helped him prepare for this opportunity.
“It was tough having a bad knee this past year and having to red-shirt,” Phillips explained. “Through that process I learned a lot and transitioned from a left side to a libero. The more I played it the more I realized I could be good at it. I’m glad that coach Mullan made that decision, it was obviously the right one.”
The purpose of the Junior National Team Program is to identify, select and train a group of young athletes who have future Senior National Team potential and offer them the opportunity to train and represent Canada in international competition at an earlier age.
“It’s been a crazy experience,” Phillips concluded. “Even if I’m the only designated libero here, I still need to work for the job to make the final 12. I’m just feeling really blessed with everything.”
2014 Canadian Junior Men’s Team
Jonathon Phillips (Saskatchewan), Libero
Adam DeJonckheere (Manitoba), Left Side
Ryan Colpitts (New Brunswick), Left Side
Brandon Koppers (Ontario), Left Side
Lucas Coleman (Ontario), Left Side
Andrew Richards (Ontario), Left Side
George Hobern (Alberta), Middle
Joel Regehr (British-Columbia), Middle
Jeff Ardron (Ontario), Middle
James Jackson (Ontario), Middle
Ryan Nickifor (Alberta), Right Side
Blake Sheerhoorn (Ontario), Right Side
Adam Schriemer (Manitoba), Setter
Gabriel Chancy (Quebec), Setter
Head Coach - John Barrett (Toronto)
Assistant coaches - Mark Dodds (Saskatoon) - Brock Davidiuk (Edmonton) Statistician - Vincenzo Mallia (Toronto) Therapist - Jean-Sébastien Hartell (Gatineau) Team Manager - Joanie Beauregard-Veillette (Ottawa)
For more information on the Canadian Junior National Program click http://www.volleyball.ca/node/3595.
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