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Another historical showing for Kootenay Bombers at Club Volleyball Nationals

By Contributor
May 28th, 2024

The best . . .. Ever.

In her 25 years of coaching, that’s where this year’s Kootenay Bombers U18 Girls Volleyball Club ranks in all the squads Nelson coach Staci Proctor has skippered.

And Proctor, who retires from coaching this season along with the Bombers’ name itself, has seen a lot of spikes, bumps and bruises. 

Following a lengthy career as a university and professional player, the Nelson native ran programs in Switzerland, Edmonton sports power house Ross Sheppard High, Nelson’s Trafalgar and L.V. Rogers schools.

This year’s team was made up of players from Nelson, Crawford Bay, Grand Forks and the Slocan Valley.

During a recent interview on Kootenay Co-op Radio’s current affairs show Monday morning along with Assistant Coach Curtis Good, Proctor paused when asked what she’s most proud of after her quarter-century contribution to the Heritage City’s volleyball ranks.

“I think all the good times and good memories the girls will take with them.”

The Bombers’ last sortie of the season — a 2,000-kilometre, five-day round trip to Edmonton for the Canadian Volleyball Canada National Championships — was for certain one for the photo album.

And almost the record books too.

“I think we played the best volleyball of the season at Nationals,” Proctor surmised, “we definitely peaked.”

The Bombers went into the Nationals ranked 78th out of a whopping 150 ladies U18 teams from across the country. They opened the first day with two wins and a loss versus bigger city squads from Lethbridge, Calgary and Waterloo, Ontario — beating Waterloo’s Durham Attack, a club so stacked with talent they normally field two squads. The Attack’s Ontario league has over 120 teams. 

Comparatively, the league the Bombers play in here in BC has around 30.

Lead by their most formidable defence of the season and an offensive array of bomb-heavy spikes, cross-court lasers and deft drops, the Bombers barrelled into their second day with two more wins and a close loss.

The performance bumped the Kootenay crew into the power pool and up from 78th seed all the way to 58th.

“We played with the big dogs,” says Proctor. “Just moving up those 20 seeds was huge for us.”

The Bombers awoke early the next day to face the Attack again for a bid into the medal round.

But the Bombers ran out of ammo, losing two in a row to Waterloo, although by close scores.

“Unfortunately we beat ourselves,” Proctor reflected. “We lost to a very good team. But one we’d already beat.”

The Attack head coach later said he “wished his girls could play the Bombers every day.”

“That’s a heavy hitting team,” he said.

The Attack would go on to win the gold medal. Their only loss was to the Bombers.

The championships were thunderous at times, with thousands on hand — fans, towering male and female players, screaming coaches and officials adorned with piercing whistles. 

The games were played on an almost unbelievable 40 courts at a time inside Edmonton’s enormous EXPO centre, the biggest indoor space in Western Canada.

As for the Bombers, with name changes for LVR teams on tap for next year, it’s the end of an era. So too for both Assistant Coach Good, who’s set to teach in Cairo, Egypt next year, and Coach Proctor.

“This was the best season I’ve had in all my coaching career,” she says, but adds that next year’s club will be a major contender. Grade 12 stars Atlyn Proctor and Lexi Elias are graduating, with Proctor heading out on a full scholarship to play NCAA Division 1 ball in Kansas.

Grade 11 starters Paityn Lake, Georgia Schuel, Gia Davidson and Cadence Schmidt could all be back during their senior years, bolstered by a strong up-and-coming crew of rookie players.

The Bomber’s U16 squad were in Edmonton last weekend and made it to the semi finals.

“With all the Grade Elevens who’ve already played U18,” says Proctor, “they’re going to have a really strong core next year.”

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