The RDC Kings have the talent to challenge for the Alberta Colleges Men’s Volleyball League title, but it all may hinge on the health of their All-Canadian right side Mitch Irvine.
Irvine has developed a sports hernia, which will eventually need surgery, but when is the major question.
“I have to see a doctor at the University of Alberta Nov. 10 and I’ll know more then,” explained the six-foot-five left-hander.
“Right now it’s not bad. There’s not much pain during the games and I’m hoping to be able to wait until the end of the season to have surgery.
“Next summer will be the first summer I’ll have off in four years so I’m hoping to be able to play the season, have surgery and have the summer to recover before attending the U of A.”
It’s little wonder Irvine’s body began to break down, after all the work he’s been doing the last several seasons.
Last year especially was tough. After playing for the Kings last season he joined the junior national team for close to two months of training, then played with Team Alberta at the Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island. Then it was back to RDC to prepare for the 2009-10 ACAC season.
“It’s been hectic, but a lot of fun,” said the Notre Dame grad, who first noticed there was something wrong after a two-week break following the Summer Games.
“(Kings head coach Aaron) Schulha gave me two weeks off after I got back and it was the third or fourth practice that I noticed it was sore and I went to the doctor,” Irvine explained.
It was first thought that he would be done after an MRI showed the hernia.
“But the doctor said I could keep playing, it depends on how painful it is. If it doesn’t get any worse I can continue to play.”
Irvine will be in action this weekend as the Kings host the Medicine Hat College Rattlers in a twin bill at RDC.
The women get underway at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday with the men to follow.
The summer was busy, but something Irvine will long remember.
“It was lots of hard work with the national team and I didn’t get to go to India with them, but it was a great experience,” said Irvine.
“I came back and joined Team Alberta and we won gold for the first time at the Games. That was exciting.”
Irvine shared playing time with former Mount Royal Cougar and University of Calgary outside hitter Allen Meek with the provincial team.
“It was the first time I got a chance to play with the university guys and while the game was faster the experience I gained during the summer helped me considerably and I felt normal playing with them.”
Central Alberta was well represented on both volleyball teams with former Kings Spencer Leiske and Tanner Nault also on the men’s team along with Mikiah Schalk. Katie Graves, Jessica Clutton and Quinn Schulzke, all with the RDC Queens, were on the women’s team.
“It shows something about our program here,” said Irvine, who is looking forward to this weekend.
“They (Rattlers) beat us last year, but we have a different team, a lot more confident this year,” he said.
“We’re not cocky, but we feel we have the talent to put together an excellent season and teams have to play their best to beat us.”
l The hockey Queens return to league play Thursday when they host Mount Royal at 7 p.m. at the Arena. The teams meet Saturday in Calgary.
l The basketball squads are on the road for a doubleheader Friday and Saturday at Medicine Hat.
l The RDC cross-country running team will host the ACAC championship Saturday at RDC. The five-kilometre women’s run begins at 11 a.m. with the 8 km men’s race set for 11:45 a.m.
l Graves, who led the Queens to a pair of wins over the Kodiaks in Lethbridge, was named the Moxie’s Classic Grill RDC female athlete of the week while basketball Kings guard Graeme McCallum received the top male award.
McCallum played a major role in the Kings doubleheader sweep over Lethbridge at RDC.