A Red Hawks Grade 9 athlete connects on a spike during pre-season practice on Monday Sept. 18 at the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School. Brett Caputo who hopes share his passion for the sport with his players is leading the first Hawks boys’ volleyball team in recent memory. They will host an exhibition tournament in Haliburton at the school on Thursday Oct. 5 at 2 p.m./DARREN LUM Staff

Boys are digging volleyball

By Darren Lum

Published Sept. 26 2017

For the first time since the 1980s the Red Hawks will have a junior boys’ volleyball team compete in the Kawartha High School Volleyball League.
Head coach Brett Caputo was excited for the launch of this endeavour and the upcoming season.
“It’s a good team sport. It’s very quick at the higher level. I’d like to see the team progress” he said.
Caputo envisions great progress for volleyball if a four-year approach is implemented similar to how the high school basketball program was run.
“This is a four-year plan and we will see how we end up” he said.
Caputo said the school declared they were going to have a team prior to the Tuesday Sept. 12 deadline.

This came about after meetings were held for boys’ football and soccer. Soccer could only draw eight players. Once it was known there wouldn’t be a soccer team Caputo said the intention to declare a team was made.
“We only need six players on the court versus a higher number for soccer. We can carry 10 players and still field a team versus soccer where you might need 16” he said.
Caputo who has coached the girls’ teams at the school has thought of starting a boys’ team for years.
“It’s a good season. It’s the first thing when we come back for school [from the summer] so there is lots of focus and eagerness … we just haven’t had a team in the past because we were running soccer and football programs. Without our soccer being offered we wanted to have another team sport so we decided on offering volleyball” he said.

This year the team was only open to Grade 9s to help them develop and ensure players weren’t being drawn away from other sports. Boys interested in competing for golf or cross-country teams were eligible to do both. Next year the team will invite Grade 9s and 10s for a junior team and continue to monitor popularity. This team’s primary focus will be on fundamentals such as control and footwork.
Caputo’s volleyball experience includes officiating coaching and playing club volleyball as a teen for the Ganaraska Wolves Club based out of Clarke High School in Orono and university. He represented Ontario in the Summer Games for two years at the regional level on the court and one on the beach. Despite being the shortest player (he’s less than six-feet tall) for two years he played at the setter position and as a libero on defence making the team as a walk-on for the University of New Brunswick as a freshman. He was cut from the team his final two years.

The coaching staff includes assistant Mike Gaffney and student coach Liam Little a HHSS student.
Caputo said Gaffney was a coach for the Hoyas of Huntsville High School and has played at the university and varsity levels.
Like the girls’ volleyball season the boys will be playing exhibition matches in tournaments before the Kawartha round-robin tournament on Nov. 2 at Brock High School.
When it comes to advancing past the Kawartha region and into the COSSA level of play the Hawks competition only includes Brock High School and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School the two other A categorized (according to population with A as smallest) schools.

Expectations with this fledgling program are realistic particularly with just five tournaments before matches count.
“It’s such a quick season especially for a group of Grade 9s with no other influence – no Grade 10s to model from. It’ll be a big learning curve but they understand that and are willing to put in the time. We’ll see where we end up” he said. “They’re excited.”