Team chases varsity club status amidst busy season

It’s been a busy year for the University of Ottawa’s Men’s Volleyball team, a Competitive Club. From playing in tournaments to vying for Varsity Club status, the team has had a lot on its plate.

Overall, the Men’s Volleyball team’s season lasts from September to March, but it is a lot more spread out than other teams’ seasons. Unlike the varsity teams, the Men’s Volleyball team doesn’t play in a large league like Ontario University Athletics (OUA). “We usually do about six to eight tournaments a year,” said head coach Étienne Pépin, who notes that the team also plays some exhibition games against La Cité collégiale and Algonquin College.

“This year we had a strong group, we had a strong start to the season,” said Pépin. “We had a little hump before the holidays, but that’s just the nature of a really long season I think.”

But he says the team is getting back into form, after a strong showing at Coupe de l’Est in January, finishing in the top four. “That’s one of the best finishes that the club has had at that tournament in a few years, so that was good.”

Pépin also said that the team is looking to increase its status at the U of O. The team put in an application to join the new Varsity Club tier, which is a step above the Competitive Club tier, where it sits now, and a step below the Varsity tier.

According to Pépin the team’s application was viewed favourably, though they weren’t accepted this year. “We were selected as one of the last six finalists,” he said, adding that the team would continue to pursue the status. “It’s definitely in our interests for the future.”

“It got the guys all excited, because a lot them are a lot younger, and still have a long career in volleyball,” said Pépin. He said the team is planning to improve to get there soon.

“For us I think it’s a question of building a more high-performance program as best we can without playing in the OUA,” he said. Pépin also talked about making sure the team was on solid financial footing. “The last thing we want to do for the players is make it a hassle for them to play volleyball.”

The team also has a new coach, with this being Pépin’s first year running the team. Pépin who played on the team throughout his undergraduate degree at the U of O and spent two years as captain, said he’s looking forward to the new task.

“My approach was to keep myself busy and give myself challenges,” he said. “I’m really enjoying it so far.”

And if you want to see the Men’s Volleyball team play, you’ll get a rare chance next month. On Sunday, Feb. 18, the team will be hosting a round-robin tournament with the University of Montreal, Everton College, and McGill University in Montpetit Hall, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We don’t often get home games, so It’s always fun to see fans,” said Pépin.