The RDP Queens volleyball team will have head coach Talbot Walton back behind the bench next season. (Photo courtesy of RDP Athletics)

The RDP Queens volleyball team will have head coach Talbot Walton back behind the bench next season. (Photo courtesy of RDP Athletics)

Walton returns as Queens volleyball head coach

Talbot Walton has never been one to back down from a challenge and he’ll have one on his hands when he returns to the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens bench.

It was announced Thursday that Walton will resume his duties as the Queens head coach, after stepping back from the role and serving as an assistant this season to focus on his health.

“We are extremely grateful that Talbot’s health has steadily progressed so that he can continue the proud legacy of the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens Volleyball program in a role that he loves,” says Kristine Plastow, Red Deer Polytechnic Dean of Students.

Chris Wandler did an outstanding job in Walton’s sted, guiding the Queens to a perfect 16-0 Alberta Colleges Athletic Association record in the regular season. The Queens went 22-1 overall with Wandler coaching this past season, the only loss coming at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championships. The Queens earned a provincial gold medal and a national bronze in the 2021-22 season.

“I speak on behalf of Queens Volleyball – we are all very thankful for Chris’ contributions to our program’s excellence,” said Walton.

“This past year, winning an ACAC Championship and CCAA bronze medal demonstrated the level of elite coaching that Chris is capable of,” adds Walton. “I am so grateful to have him as a friend and coaching peer.”

Walton will be forced to guide almost an entirely new group of players in the 2022-23 season. The Queens will be losing eight starters, including all-Canadian right side Anna Carlson, all three power hitters — Tess Pearman, who was a first-team all-star at the Nationals, Jaiden Ferguson and Jadyn Leong, middle McKenna Olson and both liberos — CCAA all- star Kaylee Domoney and Edyn Aasman.

He’s excited for the challenge of guiding the new group, which will still be led by middle Sydney Rix, who was an all-star at nationals.

“Queens Volleyball has always been my motivation. I tell people all the time that I have a great job. I get to work with outstanding people, who share the same passion for volleyball that I do,” he says.

“Returning for the 2022-23 season also represents my personal recovery from surgery. Both my recovery and Queens Volleyball have come a long way over the last few years and there will be a lot of continued growth and improvement.”

Wandler will resume assistant coaching duties next season.