Three local volleyball players will have the opportunity of a lifetime later this summer.
Cody Noble, Colby Nemeth, and Josh Gagnon were selected on the weekend by Volleyball Alberta for the U17 Team Alberta group that will play in two major events over the next two months.
The first, in July, is an 11-day trip to South Korea, where they will play exhibition matches against a team from Gangwon, South Korea that was in Alberta last summer.
“Oh, I’m super excited,” said Nemeth.
“I’ve never really been out of North America.”
That goes for Noble and Gagnon as well and that has all three on cloud nine in anticipation of the experience.
Along with the cultural aspects of the trip, which the trio was most excited for, it also provides a glimpse into the future.
“It’ll be a taste of what playing pro volleyball is like,” added Noble.
Noble got a chance to play the Korean team last year as part of the Alberta- Gangwon Sport Exchange on home soil in Calgary. He said their approach to the game and discipline is what stood out most.
“It was a really good experience, a whole different point of view on how good people our age can be. We’ve only seen players from Alberta and some Toronto teams at Nationals,” he said.
“Fundamentally, they are just really disciplined. Hard-workers. They would make the things that are normally sloppy, look perfect.”
The trio, who all play high school volleyball for the Lindsay Thurber Raiders and represent the Central Alberta Kings Volleyball Club, earned spots for Team Alberta at a pair of tryout camps.
Battling 21 players for just 12 spots on the 17U roster, it was a stiff test this past weekend in Calgary.
“I thought it was some tough competition, some good competition. It’s not like everyone is spread out now. It’s the top players altogether. There were a lot of good rallies when we really got into it,” said Gagnon.
The other big event for the group is a trip to Halifax, N.S., for the 2019 Canada Cup. That tournament is set for July 17-21 and the boys are eager to prove Alberta is the top volleyball province in the country.
“We want to show how good Alberta is,” said Gagnon.
Nemeth added, “I think that’s our goal, win the Canada Cup.”
Last year at the Canada Cup as part of the Team Alberta U16 group, the local trio was split into two different teams. Noble and Team Black beat Nemeth and Gagnon on Team Blue for bronze in division two. Noble believes uniting the two groups gives them a real shot at gold in 2019.
“They split up the teams and we met up for the bronze medal game, my team won,” he said.
“This year, all the talent is on one team so I think we could win the whole thing.”