Since 2008, Prince George has been an exporter of volleyball talent.
In March of that year, CNC cut its varsity volleyball program as part of a response to a projected $1.1 million budget deficit. Even though UNBC has expressed interest in adding volleyball to its athletics lineup, expansion hasn't yet happened.
Dan Drezet, president of the Prince George Youth Volleyball Club, would like to see the day when local players once again have the option of playing post-secondary volleyball at home. The most likely place appears to be UNBC but Drezet knows he must continue to be patient.
"I coached the 18-U guys and while we were traveling there was lots of talk about how if we had a program here they'd like to stay together and play college together," said Drezet, whose club program has produced 10 graduates that will be on the court for out-of-town schools this coming season. "But, the reality is, we know that [UNBC athletics director] Jason Kerswill and his staff up there are working on stuff. They have a plan and they have a timeline and the club's going to be there to support them when they decide the time is right to bring volleyball in as a collegiate program."
Currently, UNBC has varsity teams in men's and women's soccer and men's and women's basketball. All formerly competed in the provincial PACWEST Athletic Association but are now members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. Kerswill said volleyball would be a "great fit" for the university and a perfect complement to basketball in the Northern Sport Centre. He added, however, that the current priority -- financially and organizationally -- is UNBC's existing teams as they gain their footing in Canada West.
"We have to focus on the two programs that we have right now, make sure that they're at a competitive level," he said. "And also there's some policy in place in Canada West that as you move through the probationary period you're not supposed to add sports so that gives us a two-year window, if the probationary period goes according to plan, to figure out where we want to grow our programs. So it would be no earlier than September 2014 before we could start looking at adding programs."
Kerswill said he has heard nothing but good things about the local volleyball club.
"They've had a good number of student-athletes that have gone to play at different universities over the past few years and a good graduating class this year heading off to different schools," he said. "As time moves on here in Prince George and with the athletics program at UNBC I would definitely love to see some of those student-athletes stay put."
-- PETERS, Citizen staff