Junior Volleyball Teams To Compete In Boston

March 3, 2020

The Bermuda Volleyball Association’s Junior National Program will be sending five teams to compete in the Mizuno Boston Volleyball Festival from March 6th to March 8th under the team names Paradise Hitters [Girls: U12, U15, U16 & U18] and Big Wave Riders [Boys: U18].

This is a high level, three-day tournament with over 750 teams currently registered, taking place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

“This tournament marks a number of noteworthy achievements for the junior program. One of the main goals of the junior program is to develop a large foundation of volleyball players that will sustain the sport in Bermuda for years to come and this tournament is a step in that direction,” the BVA said.

“Five teams will be attending this tournament, composed of four girls’ teams and one boys’ team which represents the most number of volleyball teams sent to an overseas tournament at one time.

“Paradise Hitters U12 represent the youngest volleyball team sent to compete in an overseas tournament, where the youngest player is just nine years old. The total travelling group will be approximately 80 people, of which 47 will be participating players at an average age of 14/15 years old.

“It was not an easy road to be selected to one of these traveling teams so congratulations to those who have made one of these teams and to everyone else who have put in so much dedication and commitment.

“All players have been training two to three times a week since September and everyone is very excited for their second major outing. Additionally, all teams have been playing in the Burrows & Lightbourn Truly Winter League honing their skills and strategy to give them the best opportunity to do well over the weekend’s matches.

“Giving these young athletes the opportunity to compete overseas is extremely valuable and this tournament provides them with an opportunity to gain experience above and beyond what is available in Bermuda.

“None of this would be possible without the generous support of our sponsors and dedicated team of coaches and staff. Our amazing sponsors have allowed this program to be accessible to so many new players and have helped provide the opportunities to create seasoned players that have the experience to compete on the global stage. All coaches are committed to the players and the program; not only creating talented volleyball players, but strong, confident, team oriented young leaders.

Paradise Hitters u12 Back Left to Right: Juanita Blee [Assistant Coach], Hailey Trott, Laura Cera, Ayshalay Simons, Katherine O’Keefe, Evelyn Czember, Mike Gazzard [Head Coach] Front Left to Right: Kendall Hooks, Lilla Dudley-Pun, Olivia Gazzard, Somers Estwanik

Paradise Hitters Bermuda March 3 2020

Mike Gazzard, Head Coach, Paradise Hitters U12 said, “For the first time in our club’s history we are taking away a Paradise Hitters U12 team. This group of nine girls ranging in ages from 9 to 12 have been practicing together since September of 2019.

“During this time, we have focused on developing the core technical skills that will help build a foundation for future success at the club level. This international tournament represents a fantastic opportunity to compete and gain valuable experience against girls of similar age. Our goal for this tournament is to learn the tactical side of the game while further growing their passion for the sport of volleyball.”

Paradise Hitters U15 Back Left to Right: Kate Marcotte, Jessie DeBraga, Alexia Hurdle, Charlotte Young, Katie Stevenson Front Left to Right: Taylor Sousa, Caitlin Bento, Oliva Porter Not Pictured: Christina deKock, Lisa LeBlanc [Head Coach]

Paradise Hitters U 15 Bermuda March 3 2020

Lisa LeBlanc, Head Coach, Paradise Hitters U15 said, “I am excited for my U15s to have the opportunity to attend another overseas tournament this weekend as this phenomenal experience is invaluable to their growth of the sport. The selection process this time was extremely difficult, but the team is a mix of seven who have travelled previously and two who have never participated in an overseas tournament.

“This will be an eye opener to many of the girls, especially the two new players, as this is one of the largest tournaments we have attended. I am eager for the girls to not only obtain further experience actually playing on the court, but the growth they will receive by simply being engrossed with their peers and most of all watching all the talented athletes at the top of their age bracket and higher.

“We began the season with mostly fundamentals and have been able to progress by adding progressive game-like drills and implementing a myriad of higher level individual skills which they can add to their toolbox of volleyball skills. This team has an impressive bundle of energy and I’m excited to see the positive changes from the first game to the last as they improve over the three day tournament.

“Hopefully we can come away with some wins, but no matter what the scores reflect, a win for me is when the girls give their very best efforts and do everything the way they know how and you can see the passion and excitement come out. These are the building blocks for many years of volleyball to come for them and I’m 100% certain they will come back with an enhanced skill set and will be ready to learn even more.”

Paradise Hitters U16 Back Left to Right: Kolby Martins, Natalie Gazzard, Megan Hands, Erin Kelly, Daniella Stegmann Front Left to Right: Hailey Moss, Kaylee Trott, Taylor Rego, Jocelyn Manuel, Anna Marcotte Not Pictured: Allison Settle [Head Coach]

Paradise Hitters U 16 Bermuda March 3 2020

Allison Settle, Head Coach, Paradise Hitters U16 said, “This team, in particular, is a true testament to the success of the Paradise Hitters Volleyball program. Three years ago, they attended their first overseas volleyball tournament in the U14 category. At the time, this is was the youngest team that Bermuda had ever sent overseas.

“Presently, this group of players has recorded the most international wins in the history of Bermuda’s Junior Girls National Team. This is why it is incredibly exciting for us to send an U12 team to Boston. We already know that this is a recipe for success. We look forward to future growth of the program and to incorporate even more young girls in the community through the program.

“This U16 team is comprised of a tremendous group of girls that have great volleyball skills, athleticism and character. The core of this team is now in the third year of our program, and they have proven that they are capable of competing with any of the top teams locally, and when they have the chance to compete in their own age group, they have defeated many of their international opponents.

“What sets this group apart is that they have truly implemented the concept of teamwork. They win as a team, and they lose as a team. They are always eager to learn, have a passion for the sport, and even when they fall behind, they are learning to maintain their composure and fight until the end. Boston will be another challenge, but I’m confident that they will continue setting a standard for the girls who follow them.”

Paradise Hitters U18 Back Left to Right: Ashely Horseman, Kylah Hall, Alexa Saldok, Morgan Kempe, Amber Simons, Sophia Stevens Front Left to Right: Noah Autmezguine, Cailey Longworth, Lindsey Pacheco Not Pictured: Gary LeBlanc [Head Coach]

Paradise Hitters U 18 Bermuda March 3 2020

Gary LeBlanc, Head Coach, Paradise Hitters U18 said, “We just wrapped up the local winter league and it was our best season in the history of the junior girls’ program, to date. We finished second place [for the second year in a row, out of 15 teams] overall in the league, second place in the winter league weekend tournament and first place in the last mini tournament of the league.

“Through the last couple of weeks, this team has really come together and I’m hoping that with our recent success, comes more confidence. These girls are capable of doing very good but Boston is going to be tough.

“There will be 44 teams in our division alone and these teams started playing back in September just like we did, however the main difference is that this weekend will probably be their 10th tournament of the season where it is only our second so we will be one of the least experienced teams participating. Regardless, if we can keep to our fundamentals, keep our errors low, play consistent and keep our confidence high, I hope to continue our success for the season.”

Big Wave Riders U18 Back Left to Right: Evan Washington, Trent Harris, James Luckham, Noah Simons, Tyler Hurdle, Somers Mello, Kian Mooney, Jaden Malpas, Caleb Ingham Front Center: Josh Blee Not Pictured: Gary LeBlanc & Andrew Soares [Head Coaches], Kevin Manuel [Assistant Coach]

Big Wave Riders U18 Bermuda March 3 2020

Gary LeBlanc, Head Coach, Big Wave Riders U18, added: “Our first tournament, back in December [in Daytona] was an eye opener for the team. They were exposed to a very high level of play that is difficult to achieve in Bermuda on a consistent basis. We learned a lot of lessons and made some changes to better position ourselves for success, not only, in Boston but for the upcoming season as well.

“The last several practices have been really good in terms of the team coming together, which is so important in being able to achieve success. Whether that success means playing as hard as you can but losing or an actual win doesn’t really matter.

“We just want to make sure that we master our fundamentals, stay mentally strong at all times, minimize our errors and execute points when the opportunities arise. If we can manage these four goals, then I have all of the confidence that this team will be successful in Boston.”

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