Pakmen 17u girls have the winning potion
By DAVID WINER
Love-starved individuals can spend a lifetime in search of it. A group of all stars may never find it. But when the right combination of talent and camaraderie meshes, the result is sheer magic.
The Pakmen 17u girls Gold team have had great success since forming a few short months ago. Comprised of players from three defunct teams, the Pakmen have won six of seven tournaments entered this indoor season, making them No. 1 in the 106-team Ontario rankings.
The players’ talents were on full display over the past two weekends.
Traveling to Brock University in St. Catharines for the 18u McGregor Cup on Valentine’s Day, the Pakmen won the nine-team event largely against older teams. The following weekend, Feb. 21-22 , at the 17u Grand Prix Tournament in Burlington, the Pakmen were triumphant against 15 of the top sides in the province.
Head coach Pat Daniels is excited about all the tournament results, but feels the Grand Prix was special. “The 18u Premier tournament is a big win, but a few of the top teams were absent while playing in Las Vegas,” explained the Brampton elementary school teacher. “Winning the last two Premier tournaments at 17u are bigger,” he added. “The Grand Prix tournament is challenging because the top 16 teams were there instead of just the top nine. Upsets usually happen when there are more teams and more elimination games.”
Daniels, a level 2 certified coach, has been a Grade 7-8 teacher at Pauline Vanier for 21 years.
He also headed up many championship teams in the Peel Selects organization for 10 years, and assisted both the Kitchener -Waterloo Predators for one and the championship Pakmen 17u boys last season. So when he says there’s no doubting the talent on this team, Daniels speaks from experience. “(They are) highly skilled athletes who were all starters for their former teams,” said Daniels, “(and) having 12 strong players allows for practices to be highly competitive and fun.
“These athletes work extremely hard and are keen on learning and implementing new skills and techniques. “Another strong reason for their early and continued success is how quickly these new teammates were able to bond with one another,” continued Daniels. “During tournaments they have a quiet confidence. They are not loud or boisterous, they usually remain amazingly calm. Rarely do you see them get rattled and panic when they have made some mistakes, they believe in one another and can usually rally back if needed or finish out a set if they are up.”
Quite the accomplishment, considering seven of the players were members of the Georgetown Impact, three came from the Halton Hurricanes, and two from DRVC in Whitby.
Having to make the long commute from Brooklin to Brampton twice a week for practices, it quickly became a family decision for former DRVC player Sarah Dobinson
Not only was she joining a new team, it was going to be her mom doing all the driving.
“It has been a very bitter sweet season for me,” admitted Dobinson. “I love my new team and our coaches, but miss my old club and coaches very much too.
“The reason I chose to tryout for Pakmen is because of the girls. They are not only amazing athletes, they welcomed me at tryouts with open arms and made me feel very comfortable at a time when I was under a lot of stress because my previous team was no longer together and I needed a club to play for. “The best thing I can say about this team,” added Dobinson, “is that we all treat each other with mutual admiration and respect as volleyball players and friends. In a very short time we bonded like we had been raised together. “We have our own distinct personalities, which just seem to complement each other very well. We raise each other up when we are down and celebrate everyone’s victories together. There’s never a bad word between us.
“I think we all recognize that none of us are perfect and we will all make mistakes on the court.”
Team captain Mady Timpany is one of seven players who came over from the Georgetown Impact. Despite the record cold winter, the Woodstock resident drives up to an hour and 20 minutes to practice, but says it’s well worth it. “Right from the beginning, Pakmen has been incredible,” said the team’s setter. “Amazing coaching, awesome girls and many exciting tournaments. “Having 12 girls gel so quickly I feel is a great representation of how many great personalities we have on our team.”
Julia Krebs, one of three former members of the Halton Hurricanes, certainly did her due diligence before joining the newly-formed Pakmen squad. “During the past beach season, I was looking for three things in the upcoming indoor season; good coaching, a highly competitive team and an equal opportunity to play. The creation of (this team has) exceeded all three.
“I think as a team from the very start, we all respected each other as players and genuinely like each other as individuals,” said Krebs. “Within the team there is no drama, and together we focus and support each other on what we need to do on the court.”
There was little doubting the team’s focus at the two-day Grand Prix in Burlington.
After knocking off Defensa, South County, Forest City and Guelph Grizzlies on day one, Pakmen’s quest for gold continued with a 2-0 win over Markham Revolution in the quarter-finals, a 2-1 win over Durham Attack in the semi-finals, and a 2-0 victory over Forest City in the gold medal finale.
“The semi was the most memorable match of the day,” said Daniels. “It is always a very intense and energetic match against Durham Attack who are the former provincial and national champions from last year. “Many of the girls have had a great rivalry with Durham Attack since they began club volleyball, so it is never hard to pump them up for these matches. Durham Attack runs a very diverse offense and has many skilled players, so it was vital that the girls were able to be mindful of the game-plan and try to execute it. They played great and it was such a huge win for us.”
Timpany added there’s little doubt that the Durham Attack ‘s talent level keeps them on their toes during practice. “Our intense matches, that resulted in wins with Durham Attack, are certainly big accomplishments for us and we continue to work hard in practices to stay on top and win when it really counts at provincials and nationals.”
Dobinson feels she and her teammates are not only competing for themselves, but rather for the entire girls’ program. “I am excited to belong to a team that is building the reputation for the Pakmen girls to the level of the Pakmen boys in the volleyball community,” she said.
Other members of the team include Janelle Albert, Aleks Steins, Tarea Heshka, Brooke McGowan, Cailin Wark, Melissa Langegger, Lauren Veltman, Kristen Burns, Jessica Lam and assistant coach, Mike Albert.