Chaulk and the Sea-Hawks search for positives in second half of volleyball season

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Chris Quigley
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Cohen Chaulk is shown in St. John’s.

CORNER BROOK  If Cohen Chaulk has been mining his volleyball season for a little inspiration towards his musical aspirations, he’s likely penned a few sad ballads this year.

The music student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and rookie on the left side for the men’s volleyball Sea-Hawks, Chaulk has endured a brutal Atlantic University Sport (AUS) campaign so far. He and his teammates have lost all 10 matches they’ve played, without winning even a single game along the way.

“We had an extended Christmas break because everyone was kind of down and needed a break,” said the 18-year-old Corner Brook native. “But I think everyone, including myself, is really excited to get back on the court and give everything we’ve got for the last three weeks of training we have.”

The blame for the winless first half, Chaulk said, lies mainly with the youth of the team. With “seven or eight” first-year players, the adjustment period rookies experience from high school volleyball to the varsity version has rocked the Sea-Hawks particularly hard.

“The seniors make it easier,” said Chaulk. “They’re working really hard to pull us together and become a team.”

Clearly, any thoughts of a staggering second half turnaround — keeping in mind, there are only seven matches remaining — are long gone. But that doesn’t mean playing out the schedule is a waste of time.

This is a rebuilding year, the idea of which is to construct a solid foundation from which to launch next season.

“I think we have a lot of potential,” Chaulk said. “We don’t have much time left now, but I think with good off-season training, we can bring it together for next season for sure.”

He actually doesn’t believe the gap between his group and the two other AUS squads — University of New Brunswick and Dalhousie — is that great.

“I think we can beat them,” he said. “I just think we have a problem with pulling it together when we need to, but I think the skill is there.”

Chaulk’s play has hardly been an issue. As a rookie, he has a tough time even getting on the floor. He said it just provides him with motivation to show he belongs on the team.

“I think all the rookies feel the same way,” he said.

When he does get in the game, it’s a much different level of the game than he’s ever been exposed to.

“We’re playing against third and fourth-year varsity players,” he explained. “It’s really hard and even scary the first few times, but you get used to it.”

Figuring out the athletic end of university is still a work in progress, but Chaulk seems to have the academic side down.

“Straight As so far,” he said. “I can’t complain.”

But perfecting a passion like piano, while tending to his other studies and putting in ample time training with his volleyball team, can all be very draining. Chaulk figures he’s at the school until midnight or 1 a.m. daily.

“I’m tired a lot of the time, living off caffeine, but I love it,” he said. “It’s not hard, because I love both (volleyball and music).”

Getting home for the holidays on Dec. 16 was a necessary timeout, however — for Chaulk especially, considering he left home for St. John’s before his Level 3 year in high school so he could help assist Sea-Hawks coach Luke Harris during practices and get a sneak peek at varsity volleyball.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time at home,” he said. “So it was nice to have a good period of time, just to be with the family.”

Chaulk headed back to St. John’s on Thursday. The Sea-Hawks resume play Jan. 11 against Dalhousie.

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Geographic location: Corner Brook, New Brunswick

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