Rode: Volleyball player to go far

As an alternate on the 2017 Team Alberta U17 volleyball team, Brody Kopec wasn’t expecting a lot.

But it turned out better than expected for the Notre Dame Cougars star.

“As an alternate I wasn’t sure I would play,” he said. “But one of the outside hitters injured his ankle and I got a chance to travel to Florida (for the USA High Performance Championship) with the team.”

Team Alberta played in the International Division facing teams from Australia, United States and Canada, posting a 2-6 record. While Kopec didn’t play a lot, he couldn’t have been happier.

“It was a great, fun experience … I learned a lot getting a chance to play with and against players my own age,” said the six-foot-four left side hitter.

Kopec was one of three Red Deer players to attend the Team Alberta testing camp last season and he met all the standards.

“From there I attended two or three tryouts and despite being one of the younger guys made it as an alternate,” explained the 16-year-old Grade 11 student.

Kopec, who also plays with the Kings Volleyball Club, hopes to tryout for Team Alberta again next summer.

“Hopefully it works out.”

Kopec got into volleyball in Grade 6 at Eastview Middle School and played Grade 9 volleyball at Hunting Hills.

“I started playing in Grade 6, but didn’t become really interested in it until Grade 9,” he explained.

He made the switch to Notre Dame in Grade 10.

“I changed mainly because I had a lot of friends at Notre Dame and I liked their program,” said Kopec, who also played some basketball and is still in badminton, golf and tennis.

The Cougars had a solid volleyball team this season, ranked sixth in the province heading into the zone 4A championship final against Lindsay Thurber.

They beat Thurber in the first game of the best-of-three, before losing the next to. Thurber went on to finish third at the provincials.

“Good for them. I have friends on their team as we play together in club. In the final I wanted to beat them as you always want to have bragging rights, but once it was over we’re still good friends.”

The Cougars had seven Grade 11s on their team and Kopec expects to be strong next season. He also expects the Kings Club program to be strong.

“They will have a very strong U18 team, which I’m hoping to make,” he said. “If not I’ll be with the U17 team.”

Cougars head coach AJ Mahoney coached the U18 team last year and will be with the U17 team this year.

“I’ve had him as a coach since Grade 10 and learned a lot from him,” said Kopec. “Because he coached the U18 team last year I got an opportunity to train some with them. If I play with his team this year it’ll be good because I know him and he knows me. He knows what I can do and what I need to work on.”

Kopec has always played left side.

“I love it there. You’re involved in all aspects of the game. You get a chance to do everything from passing, playing defence, swinging and blocking.

Brody is solid at the net. His defence is something he’ll continue to work on.

“I work the hardest on that, just making sure I’m in the right position as to how the block is set up.”

Kopec is looking forward to the next year and down the road.

“I hope to play college or CIS (USport),” he said. “I’ve talked with Aaron (Kings head coach Schulha) and (former King) Brock Davidiuk, who is with the U of A.”

He wants to take either architecture or engineering.

“I want to go to a school based around academics,” he stressed. “That’s where my future will likely be.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate.com

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