Jace Martin has one significant and obvious advantage on the volleyball court.
At six-foot-7, the 17-year-old is taller than most opponents he lines up against in high school and on the club circuit.
That advantage and some solid play this season also earned him the opportunity of a lifetime, a spot on Volleyball Canada’s Youth National Team.
Martin, who just finished his senior year at H.J. Cody High School in Sylvan Lake and will join the RDC Kings volleyball team next season, was thrilled when he got the call for the national team.
“I had no idea. I thought I was going to be done playing club and they emailed me two weeks after nationals (in May). I was scared but really excited,” said Martin, who mostly plays middle but might play some right side for Canada.
The Sylvan Lake teen is one of just 28 players named to the youth national team last week, a group of players born in the year 2000 or later. He’s also one of just seven players from Alberta to crack the squad.
“We are excited to have such a promising group of young athletes in our national team development programs,” said Dawna Sales, manager of athlete and coach pathways for Volleyball Canada.
“This is the first time we are sending two teams from three different birth years (16-18U) to the High Performance Championships in the U.S.”
Martin’s play was noticed during the club season this year when he suited up for the Central Alberta Kings U18 Volleyball Club. The Kings were eighth in the Volleyball Alberta Provincials, then finished with a 5-3 record at nationals in Edmonton.
“At H.J., our coach didn’t really know a lot. Club was fun, learned a lot. Everybody wanted to play,” he said.
Martin noted his growth spurt came during the summer heading into grade 10 and throughout some of that year, where he went from nearly six feet to close to his current height. He also believes he’s still growing.
The middle blocker will attend training at Mount Royal University in July, then head with the team to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships from July 24-29.
“Just (looking forward to) better coaches. Getting to play with really good kids. The experience will be cool,” he said.