It’s been the most successful season ever, for the Seaway District High School Senior girls volleyball team, who, after winning the Eastern Ontario (EOSSAA) championship on their home court on Thursday, February 20, collected the Upper Canada Cup Championship and the OFSAA B Consolation Gold Championship.
The Spartans were at Richmond Hill, March 3-5 where they competed in the Ontario Championship. They played in the C Pool and were seeded 12th overall in the tournament.
“We didn’t have a great day on Monday, and we felt that we could have done better,” said coach Lindsay Waddell. “But we regrouped and played some really good ball Tuesday and Wednesday.
The C pool included Charles Garnier, Quinte Christian, King’s Christian and Cité des Jeunes.
Seaway’s shaky start began with losses to Charles Garnier (14-25, 20-25) and Quinte Christian (18-25, 18-25).
They then scraped past King’s Christian (16-25, 25-22 and 18-16) and had an easy time of it against Cité des Jeunes (25-8, 25-12).
They ended up third in the C pool and moved to the B side of OFSSA.
In the B, best-of-five, consolation quarter-final match, they met Marymount and produced 25-23, 25-21, 25-20 wins. Next up was Durham in the semi-final Consolation match with Seaway winning three sets to one (25-22, 25-9, 24-26 (loss), 25-13).
For the Consolation Gold Medal match, they met Xavier and won three straight (25-22, 25-23, 25-19).
“Once we went to the B side, we won every game after that. We were very strong defensively, the entire tournament, which is what I credit most of our success to.”
“The girls passed the ball really well and dug up everything that other teams threw at us.”
Casey McNairn, Allison Lee and Tiffany Roskell gave strong defensive efforts all tournament long, while Shannon van Moorsel and Kaitlyn Geurkink were very good at the net and blocked many of the other teams’ big hitters.”
Sophia Currier had a great tournament and set the ball extremely well.”
“We were very happy to win the Consolation Gold title. To be a small school from such a small town, we are extremely pleased to be one of the top 10 ‘A’ volleyball teams in the province.”
“I think going to OFSAA the last two years also really helped, as it allowed the girls to get over the shock of being there. This year they were more comfortable with their surroundings and with their opponents. They had the confidence that they not only belonged there, but that they could win. We didn’t win a single set at OFSAA last year, so to win five games and come home with some hardware is a huge accomplishment.”
“The girls should be very proud of themselves. It’s been an amazing season.”
Following their EOSSAA win, the Spartans competed for and won the Upper Canada Cup in Gananoque. They opened with a win over Athens in two straight sets, and defeated Smiths Falls in three. That put them first in their pool and got them a bye into the semi-final where they met and defeated South Grenville in two straight sets.
For the championship, the Spartans met Russell High School and claimed the Upper Canada Cup in two straight sets.
Members of the Spartans team are co-captains Sophia Currier and Casey McNairn, Shannon van Moorsel, Jessica Hartle, Katrina Geurkink, Allison Lee, Kaitlyn Geurkink Tiffany Roskell, Ali Van Hoof, and coach Lindsay Waddell.
Five of the Spartans graduate this spring.
By P. Blancher
U13 Girls defeat Ottawa Internationals
The Seaway Kickers U13 Girls team defeated the Ottawa Royals G2 team 4-2 at the Merkley Soccer Fields in Iroquois, on June 18.
Ottawa claimed the lead early in the first half with back-to-back goals, making it 2-0. Late in the first half, Kicker Helene Bygott scored, with Sydney Piquette landing the tying goal moments later. At half-time, the score was 2-2.
A goaltending change at half-time led to no further scoring by Ottawa.
Early in the second half Piquette scored her second of the night, giving Seaway a 3-2 lead. Kiana Fredette scored on a penalty kick for added insurance. Final score, Seaway 4-Ottawa Internationals 2.
They visit the Ottawa Royals G3 team at Bruff Park in Ottawa June 24.
Kickers U13M team continues undefeated season
The U13 Mixed team hosted the Ottawa Internationals M1 team in Iroquois June 20. Scoring started early with a Seaway goal by David Swerdfeger, low and in the left corner.
Moments later, Seaway’s Conner Dumoulin planted a strong shot in net, for a 2-0 Seaway advantage.
Late in the first half, Ottawa landed a successful shot on Seaway goalie Shawn Dowson, to cut the Seaway lead to 2-1 at the half.
Early in the second half, Seaway’s John Coligan netted a hard shot in the top right corner of the goal.
Kurt Cutler and Jacob Byvelds finished it off giving the Kickers the 5-1 win.
The Kickers U13 Mixed team season record is six wins, no losses and no ties. They host the Nepean City’s M4 team in Iroquois, June 27. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
U15 Girls lose to Ottawa
The Seaway Kickers U15 Girls team lost to the Ottawa Royals G2 team, 2-1, at St. Joseph’s High School in Nepean on June 19. Jessica Ferguson scored for Seaway.
The U15 Girls visit the Nepean HotSpurs G1 team on June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Des Laurier High School in Nepean.
Another U18 Girls win
The Seaway Kickers U18 Girls team defeated Nepean City on June 17 in the second game of a home and home series, 6-1.
Leslie-Ann Tupper scored four goals in the back-to-back rout. The U18 girls visit the Ottawa Internationals on June 24 at Hillcrest High School in Ottawa.
Last week, a goal for the U13 Mixed team was attributed to Dawson Markell, it should be attributed to Dawson Miller. We apologize for the error.
It was way back in August of 1999, when Jennifer Banford took a break from her packing for university for an interview with the Leader. Little did she know that she had hit the ball out of the ball park when she landed a partial softball scholarship to Valley City State University in North Dakota.
Jennifer, along with her dad Keith and mom Janice, were thrilled at the opportunity the scholarship provided for her education. What they didn’t realize was that 15 years later, Jennifer would be the head coach of the University of Minnesota NCAA II Duluth Bulldogs women’s softball team and the 2013 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Coach of the Year.
Back in 1999, Jennifer was your typical 18-year-old, bubbling over with excitement as she packed for the 26 hour drive to Valley City. She had just completed Grade 12 at Seaway District High School, and had three OAC credits. She had also wrapped up a third ball season in the shortstop position with a Tier 1 team in Manotick coached by Chris Mullins.
It was Mullins who had encouraged her to apply to some U.S. colleges and universities for a ball scholarship.
Jennifer also put her resume online and that is how Valley City found her. With a student population of 1,200, Valley City was looking for a basketball and softball player. And they found both in Jennifer.
A talented, multi-sport athlete, Jennifer was just two inches over five feet. Hockey was her favourite sport, and she had played high school basketball along with competitive basketball in a league in Cornwall.
At Valley State, she was to play volleyball in the fall, followed by basketball and then softball in the spring.
“I tried everything,” says Jenn who was home in Iroquois in mid-June. “The reality of U.S. college is it’s unique to be able to do two sports, let alone three. I ended up concentrating on softball and was moved to catcher.”
For four years, Jennifer was a standout catcher for the Valley State Vikings. She graduated in 2003 with a B.S. degree, double majoring in Health and Physical Education. She later completed her Master of Science degree in Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science.
“In the U.S., they have really good support for student athletes,” says Jennifer. “It’s totally different than here, just the resources they have. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a small school. They really take care of their athletes.”
Jennifer still recalls that first trip to North Dakota. “There were a few tears when they [dad and mom] dropped me off. But I was excited. It felt good right away. The people were great, and it felt like home right away. I have no regrets. I made lifelong friends there.”
Asked when the possibility of a coaching began to take shape, Jennifer says, “When I was in my sophomore year, I began to realize the opportunities there were in coaching.”
Being that Valley State was a smaller college and with not a big coaching staff, Jennifer began to take a leadership role and that is how she first noted the opportunities in coaching.
“For most coaching in the U.S. schools, you have to get a related degree. So I began to gear my education towards that goal.”
After graduation from Valley City, Jennifer spent one year as assistant coach in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and one season as interim headcoach at Mayville State University before she received the head coach offer from the University of Minnesota Duluth.
At Mayville, she was coaching and teaching students her own age.
It was a dream offer that came from Duluth in 2005. “I was very excited to get to Duluth. They play Division II ball which was a step up for me, and they have a very good Division 1 women’s hockey team.”
They are coached by the first ever coach of Team Canada [Shannon Miller]. “I knew, once I got there, it was where I wanted to be.”
And now Jennifer says she has “the best of both worlds.”
From January to May, she is the head coach for the Bulldogs women’s softball team, and from August to March, she is the Director of Operations and Video coach for the women’s hockey team.
During her eights years as the Bulldogs head softball coach, Jennifer’s teams have put up a 247-153 record. They have four NCAA II Central Regional l berths, and one NSIC regular season championship.
This past season, the Bulldogs posted 14 straight wins, their second longest victory streak ever and rolled up their second most victories ever with a 41-13 record. Both on the field and off the field, Jennifer’s Bulldogs have enjoyed some big successes with 21 NSIC/NCC All-Academic Team honorees.
Jennifer’s recent visit home to Iroquois was a brief stop before she headed off to British Columbia (June 24-30) to join Softball Canada as a guest coach for the selection process for Canada’s junior and senior women’s national teams.
She says she was absolutely delighted to get the invite by Softball Canada. “I’ve been trying to get my foot in the door in Canada with Softball Canada as an opportunity to give back to my country. I can’t wait. It’s going to be exciting, and I’m looking forward to it. I know a good handful of the girls trying out as a couple are in Minnesota and one I recruited myself.”
Jennifer was also excited to meet three-time world champion and Softball Canada Hall of Famer, Team Canada head coach Mark Smith who has 27 years of experience in developing and leading high performing teams.
The team selected will compete in the World Cup, July 7-13, in Irvine, California, and the Canadian Open, July 15-21, in Surrey, B.C.
In August, Team Canada will be in Haarlem, Netherlands for the XIV ISF Women’s World Championships.
As a guest coach, Banford is not on the Team Canada coaching staff. She was however thrilled to be a part of the selection process and to work with some really talented and experienced softball coaches and players.
Jennifer tries to visit home, two or three times a year and she says, “I am always willing when back in town to educate people on what is out there. I would love people to have the same experience I’ve had. I worry that the kids in this area, don’t know just how many opportunities there are available to them.”
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