The Eastern Impact will have a little bit of a western undertone this coming week at the national volleyball championships in Edmonton, Alta.
Corner Brook’s Christopher Leroy will be a part of the squad out of Clarenville competing in the 17U division. He’s the lone west coaster to make the trek to the tournament.
Leroy, a 16-year-old Level 2 student at Corner Brook Regional High School, competed at the nationals last year in Waterloo, Ont. as a member of the local Humber Volleyball Club. The Impact were also at that event, finishing a solid 19th out of 42 teams in their category.
Leroy had previously played with several members of the Impact two years ago with Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the Eastern Elite Championship and formed a few friendships there, so when it was determined the Humber club wouldn’t be attending this year’s national competition, they suggested he join them to try out for the final roster.
Leroy, who is the son of Gord and Mary Lou, was instantly interested, but was unable to attend the suggested tryout date. Luckily, Impact head coach Jakob Walsh had seen him play with the Corner Brook Regional High squad at a tournament back in October, so he was familiar with his work and picked him up anyway.
It’s another step towards a higher calibre of volleyball for Leroy, who began playing the sport at G.C. Rowe in Grade 7. His brother Nathan, two years his senior, was also involved in the game, so he was constantly watching from a distance and was hooked once he was given the same shot to play.
“I like the dynamic of it,” he said. “It’s a team sport and, if everyone’s not doing something, it doesn’t work.
“I like a team environment.”
Leroy suits up on the left side and is typically a key hitter for his club. He admits he can struggle sometimes defensively and in the passing game, so he concentrates on finishing off plays.
The team leaves Friday for Edmonton, a city Leroy has never visited before.
The trip is mainly about volleyball, obviously, but there are other aspects that have piqued his interest, like checking out the West Edmonton Mall — the largest shopping mall in North America.
“But I’m really excited about the level of ball I’ll be playing up there.”
Building on the team’s finish last year to produce an even better result is the ultimate goal.
He said the belief among the team members is they can finish in the top 15 this time around.
Action in the 17U division gets underway Sunday, before wrapping up on Tuesday.