Cor Ouwerkerk and winning were essentially synonymous for nearly three decades at RDC.
Ouwerkerk was at the helm of the RDC Queens volleyball team for 25 years and led the group to six undefeated seasons, along with a 90 percent winning percentage in more than 3,700 games.
He won 13 straight Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference pennants and made 15 trips to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Championships.
The long-time coach is on the RDC Legacy Wall of Excellence and is also a two-time inductee in the Volleyball Alberta Hall of Fame (2005 as Coach, 2007 with the 1982-89 Queens).
He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (2005) and ACAC Hall of Fame (2014).
Tuesday, it was announced Ouwerkerk added another feather to his accolades cap, as he was named one of 10 new members inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame.
“They’re all special honours, without a doubt. This is actually my sixth induction, It always makes you feel really good inside,” said Ouwerkerk from his home in Lethbridge Wednesday.
Ouwerkerk coached basketball, football, gymnastics, rugby, soccer, track and field and volleyball from 1968 to 2000 in Alberta.
Originally asked to come on board to coach the RDC men’s volleyball team, Ouwerkerk took over as the women’s coach and never looked back.
He helped develop the program into a powerhouse, winning 14 ACAC gold, including eight consecutive from 1982-89. They broke through and won a national title once in 1984.
“I started coaching men’s volleyball for four years and by accident, I became the women’s coach and as it turned out, I enjoyed that a little bit more than the men,” he recalled.
“I always got the impression they wanted to work really hard and I was able to influence their life in the way they played and the way they behaved on and off the court. Especially academically.”
In addition to the banners and personal accolades he received post hoc, he was named Coach of the Year seven times in Alberta and received the Coaching Excellence Award in CCAA Women’s Volleyball in 1985. He said the method he used to get the most out of his players was a relatively simple one.
“The real key is to understand what the players think– their behaviours, their body language and interpret what they’re trying to tell you,” he said.
“I call that 80 per cent of the art of coaching. Found that really challenging with the girls. I realized you could influence them in a positive way.”
Beyond the on-court success, Ouwerkerk credits help from the entire community, assistant coaches, administrators and athletes as the reason he was able to accomplish what he did.
“I’m glad to be alive for this to happen so I can rightfully thank the community of Red Deer and Red Deer College. All the ex-players, ex-assistant coaches and anyone associated with the college. How much I appreciate them being there to allow me to do all this,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have got anywhere if I hadn’t have got that job at Red Deer College. I love the community and Red Deer College.”
For all that, his commitment to the athletes beyond the court is what motivated him to keep going. He noted one memorable encounter was with a former player. After a few seasons playing CIS volleyball, she returned to RDC and thanked him for his dedication to academics. That player later became a doctor.
“The biggest kick of it was to be able to help those girls. They showed their appreciation,” he said.
Ouwerkerk will be inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame at a Banquet in Calgary on June 11.