Cougar Volleyball is located at 20159 115A Avenue, units 1-4. (Special to The News)

Cougar Volleyball is located at 20159 115A Avenue, units 1-4. (Special to The News)

Maple Ridge volleyball club only entering first season due to COVID

More than 250 players tried out in November

An East Maple Ridge father, tired of driving all the way to Coquitlam for his daughter to play volleyball, is trying to get a local club up and running again now that provincial health restrictions have eased from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shaun Lynch, club director of Cougars Volleyball, has opened a new 7,500 square foot facility in Maple Ridge that not only contains space for two full volleyball courts, and a full-sized basketball court, but also offers high performance weight lifting.

Lynch first enquired of Volleyball BC about starting a club in the area on Nov. 1 2019. He was told he needed a vision statement, mission statement, official league colours, and a logo. He had nothing.

So he got his statements together, chose teal and black, his daughter’s favourite colours, and the name Cougars – because he read a newspaper article about a cougar sighting in Maple Ridge – and started a club.

He thought if he could get the interest of 30 or 40 players, it would be a good start and the club could build from there. Instead he had 130 players signed up right off the bat.

“I had no idea the need for volleyball in this area,” he said.

The group played for two months and in only two big tournaments before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the facility had to be closed down.

They started programming again in July, 2020, and in addition to their girls programs, they started a program for boys. However, in 2021 with no competitions or tournaments, club membership dropped to 90 players who were still interested in participating in skill development.

This past November club tryouts saw more than 250 players turn out.

Players take part in competitive play from 12U to 18U, but a new program starts players as early as 6-years-0ld.

The season costs $975 for six months of play from December until May. This includes four ranking tournaments run by Volleyball BC, in addition to provincials and a national competition. Then the club hosts their own.

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“We’ve hosted numerous tournaments this year because nobody else was putting them on because they couldn’t get access to facilities during COVID. Because we had our own facility we started hosting a lot of club tournaments,” explained Lynch, adding there could be a tournament every weekend.

Lynch is hoping to turn his facility into an athletic club for the community.

Called Catalyst Initiative Athletic Club, they just launched adult fitness classes at the beginning of April. And a personal trainer helps with strength conditioning and high performance training not only for the volleyball players, but for athletes of all sports including swimmers, soccer players.

“What we were hearing was that a lot of athletes that go on to high performance opportunities, they live in Maple Ridge, but they had to leave to go train somewhere else,” he said.

“We wanted to kind of create an opportunity for them to live here and train here,” he added.

For more information about Catalyst Initiative Athletic Club go to catalystinitiative.ca or for the Cougar Volleyball Club go to cougarvolleyball.ca or call 778-823-0816.


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