Small school pulls off big win

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Provincial and Territorial News

Pearson Academy Astros of New-Wes-Valley win second straight 4A Boys volleyball championship


Gail Collins
Published on January 10, 2017

The winning moment for the Pearson Academy Astros.

©Loran Knee

In New-Wes-Valley, the Pearson Academy Astros are sports royalty.

For two years running, they’ve taken the top provincial title in boys’ high school volleyball, beating out teams from much larger schools.

“I guess last year could be looked at as a bit of an upset,” said coach Craig Loder. “Going back-to-back makes it a bit of a dynasty… this was the icing on the cake, because it was the boys’ last year for the most part.”

On Dec. 9, after beating Gander Collegiate in the semi-finals, the Astros went on to beat their long-time rivals the Clarenville High Cougars in the 4A boy’s varsity volleyball finals at Corner Brook Regional High.

Even after last year’s win, the boys didn’t take anything for granted. Player Kris Winter says that when they realized they won.

“We were shocked, we paused for a moment, then we all went crazy,” he said.

What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that size-wise, the school is at the 3A level, but three years ago they applied to move up to 4A to compete against larger schools in places like St. John’s and Corner Brook.

Player Luke Hunt says, “To win a 4A Provincial as a 3A team is really amazing, but to win it two years consecutive is unreal.”

Winter attributes their success to their coach and their bond as a team, saying, “He’s been with us since Grade 6 and 7 and he’s more like a dad to us than a coach because we’ve been with us for so long, and all the boys on the team are like brothers to me.”

Hunt agrees that their coach’s support is key.

“It makes us feel pretty important I guess, because every other team in our school gets a new coach every year but our coach has stuck by us.”

The team also has a dedicated assistant coach — a member of the community — Duke Kelloway, who’s been with them for five years.

Loder, a teacher at the school and the team’s coach for six years, is grateful that parents and other community members have been so supportive as fundraisers and fans.

“When we have a volleyball tournament here, the gym is packed,” he said.

Winter also won an award for sportsmanship at the provincials. His modesty offers another clue to the Astro’s success.

Winter says, “It means everything, but if there was a team’s sportsmanship, I probably would take that one instead of the individual one, because it is a team sport.”

Most of the members of the team are graduating this year, but Loder says they’ve been mentoring some of the younger players.

“These guys were sort of paying it forward because someone did it for them when they were in Grade 8 or Grade 9,” he said. “So it’s just an endless cycle.”


The Pearson Academy Astros 4A volleyball champs include (front, from left) Michael Hounsell, Andrew Knee, Toby Abbott, Kyle Gaulton, Noah Carter, Andrew Abbott, Jason Coutlee; (back) assistance coach Duke Kelloway, Alex Kean, Zack Dunn, Cameron Gill, Jonah Winter, Luke Hunt, Kris Winter and coach Craig Loder. Missing from photo are Charles Stagg and Brandon Howell.

©Submitted Phot

Comments are closed.