Flyers repeat as SOSSA champions
Winning never gets old for the Eden Flyers.
The defending Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations senior boys AA volleyball champions are heading back to OFSAA after sweeping the E.L. Crossley Cyclone 25-16, 25-23, 25-15 Thursday in the SOSSA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association) final before a packed gym at Eden.
“I love the challenge,” Eden coach Bill Markham said. “Every year there are new teams and the competition gets better every year I think, especially in this area.
“For us, it’s fun to rise to the challenge and it’s fun to be pushed. I like high expectations.”
Markham said there is no magic formula for success.
“We try to stick to our system. Do what we know has made us successful in the past and it pays off. Their hard work, dedication and playing as a team pays off.”
The Flyers have now compiled an eye-popping 65-2 record this season.
“I knew we had a lot of returning players who helped us to our gold last season,” Markham said. “I knew we had a good chance to be really solid and we had new players stepping into those roles.
“You never know exactly what you are going to do, but I’m very proud of these guys.”
Eden veteran Ashton Nieuwets had a strong game Thursday, which came as little surprise to Markham.
“What I love about Ashton is that he is underrated by everybody,” Markham said. “They look at his size and they immediately dismiss him. He has such a great attitude and is so athletic.
“We can run so many plays through him. When we get in a jam, we run to him because he’s a reliable player in that regard.”
Nieuwets, a 17-year-old, Grade 12 student, feels it is important for the Flyers to not get too far ahead of themselves.
“Most people almost take it for granted but for some people going to OFSAA is the biggest thing in their career and we try and take it like that,” he said.
Nieuwets, who joined the senior team in Grade 10 and won OFSAA silver that year, relishes his role.
“I’m one of the leaders on the team,” he said. “I just try and keep my composure and have them keep their composure.”
Nieuwets appreciates being part of the puzzle of such a juggernaut.
“When everyone is doing their part, it becomes easier,” he said.
The Flyers will likely be ranked No. 1 at OFSAA, which is being held in Stratford.
“It would be crazy, because it’s been a couple of years since Eden has won back-to-back golds,” Nieuwets smiled.
The Cyclone also qualify since the defending champion zone sends two teams to OFSAA.
“That’s what OFSAA is going to be like so it was nice for the boys to see that,” Cyclone co-coach Jessica Kropac said.
Co-coach Michelle Gibson agreed.
“It’s going to help us a ton. It was nice to see such a competitive and talented team because we don’t always get to play such a great team.”
The Cyclone had a strong regular season and also competed in several AAA tournaments.
Other members of the championship squad are: Cole Duncanson, Jared Dyck, Leighton Friesen, Tobias Jeffries, Dylan Kelcey, Ethan Maroudas, Chad McArthur, Ethan Mewhinney, Kyle Mulder, Jake Mumford, Peter Pilling, Zack Reimer and Issac Tenyenhuis.
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