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Small school fields team despite odds

Members of the Mary Simms All-Grade Grizzlies are, front row (left to right): Faith Clarke, Nicholas Walker, Katelynn Russell, and Miguel Whalen; and back row: Christian Reardon, Logan Whiteway, Brandon Brown and Jordan Russell.
Members of the Mary Simms All-Grade Grizzlies are, front row (left to right): Faith Clarke, Nicholas Walker, Katelynn Russell, and Miguel Whalen; and back row: Christian Reardon, Logan Whiteway, Brandon Brown and Jordan Russell.

Mary Simms All-Grade in Main Brook is barely big enough to get a volleyball team on the court.

Yet the small school, with just 11 students enrolled from grade seven to 12, was able to qualify all the way to provincials this past year.

The results achieved by the Mary Simms All-Grade Senior Boys Volleyball Team are a testament to their skill and determination, says their coach.

The team from Main Brook is a “senior boys” team in name only.

Given the school’s low enrolment they had to include junior players and girls as well. The team consists of two senior boys, one senior girl, four junior boys, and one junior girl.

In other words, eight of the 11 students attending the high school are playing for the team.

“Even to form a volleyball team was a difficult endeavour for a school that size,” says principal and coach, Raymond Byrne.

Despite the odds, however, and the small pool of players to draw from, they’ve found plenty of success this past year.

In November, the team won the Regional Qualifier in Bonne Bay to advance to the Provincial ‘A’ Volleyball Tournament for the first time in a few years.

At the provincials, they didn’t pull off any victories, but they kept all the games competitive. This included a match that Byrne called one of the highlights, a tight one against eventual tournament finalists Southwest Arm Academy, from Trinity Bay.

One of the students, Logan Whiteway, also participated in the spiking challenge in the skills competition.

Byrne says they’ve been playing against schools of a similar size but whose teams are nonetheless mostly composed of senior boys.

“So we’re playing against teams who are older, much more experienced, and have a lot more athletes to choose from,” he adds.

He attributes the success in the face of this adversity to the interest in volleyball at the school and their dedication to it.

“It’s a favourite sport of theirs and we got some players with excellent athletic ability and good hustle and determination,” he says.

Given the youth of the team, Byrne knows they possess the potential to gain more experience, continue to be competitive, and do even better years down the line.

Yet the small school, with just 11 students enrolled from grade seven to 12, was able to qualify all the way to provincials this past year.

The results achieved by the Mary Simms All-Grade Senior Boys Volleyball Team are a testament to their skill and determination, says their coach.

The team from Main Brook is a “senior boys” team in name only.

Given the school’s low enrolment they had to include junior players and girls as well. The team consists of two senior boys, one senior girl, four junior boys, and one junior girl.

In other words, eight of the 11 students attending the high school are playing for the team.

“Even to form a volleyball team was a difficult endeavour for a school that size,” says principal and coach, Raymond Byrne.

Despite the odds, however, and the small pool of players to draw from, they’ve found plenty of success this past year.

In November, the team won the Regional Qualifier in Bonne Bay to advance to the Provincial ‘A’ Volleyball Tournament for the first time in a few years.

At the provincials, they didn’t pull off any victories, but they kept all the games competitive. This included a match that Byrne called one of the highlights, a tight one against eventual tournament finalists Southwest Arm Academy, from Trinity Bay.

One of the students, Logan Whiteway, also participated in the spiking challenge in the skills competition.

Byrne says they’ve been playing against schools of a similar size but whose teams are nonetheless mostly composed of senior boys.

“So we’re playing against teams who are older, much more experienced, and have a lot more athletes to choose from,” he adds.

He attributes the success in the face of this adversity to the interest in volleyball at the school and their dedication to it.

“It’s a favourite sport of theirs and we got some players with excellent athletic ability and good hustle and determination,” he says.

Given the youth of the team, Byrne knows they possess the potential to gain more experience, continue to be competitive, and do even better years down the line.

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