Cohen Chaulk is shown in this September 2012 file photo. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
ST. JOHN’S — It’s not exactly how Cohen Chaulk wanted to earn more floor-time, but rookies can’t be choosers.
The Memorial University of Sea-Hawks men’s volleyball team is down to just 12 members after starting the season with a roster of 17. The Christmas break alone saw four players — a pair of second-year athletes and two first-years — quit the team. In a recent interview with TC Media, Sea-Hawks coach Luke Harris said some of the players left because they could not balance academics with athletics, with the others leaving because they found the season to be too difficult.
“One or two of the guys, we kind of knew, but a few of the guys were a shock,” said Chaulk. “We had a really deep squad and we keep losing people. It’s hard.”
The music major can relate to the struggles of splitting school with sports, but feels it may be different for him, since he’s studying something he loves.
“Music is something I enjoy anyway, so everything I do in my classes is enjoyable,” said the Corner Brook native.
The silver lining for 18-year-old Chaulk is he’s now accompanying the team when it travels and was in the lineup for half of two Atlantic University Sport (AUS) matches, both losses, the team played against Dalhousie in Halifax, N.S. last weekend. It was his first trip with the team since October.
He’ll also be wearing the uniform this weekend for a mini-tournament in Sherbrooke, Que. and will most likely be involved in the team’s final two games of the year against the University of New Brunswick on Jan. 25-26.
“It sucks not being able to see your friends and stuff,” he said. “But, on a personal level, it’s good. I like it.”
With more playing time, comes more responsibility. It’s a big step up from the “learning by watching” approach he was becoming accustomed to this season.
“I’ve got to bring it upon myself to carry a bit more weight,” he said. “Everybody does, especially the older guys ... they have to encourage the younger guys to stick around because we can’t afford to lose anybody else.”
A couple of the players that left were “big recruits,” according to Chaulk, which made their abrupt exit even more surprising. He’s aware the club’s current 0-12 record may have played a role in those decisions.
“I guess it would make a difference,” he said. “It’s tough to stay motivated with our record, but I think coach does a good job of keeping us together.
“The 12 guys we have left,” he added, “we’ve bonded as a team a lot more. We’ve become a lot closer, definitely.”
Though this campaign has been a trying one, Cohen has no plans to follow those ex-teammates out the door. He said he believes he’s in it for the long haul.
“I might as well take advantage of the whole experience.”