Pakmen remain perfect in U17 play

By DAVID WINER
Greek philosopher Aristotle may not have been around when volleyball was first played, but he certainly recognized the value of hard work when he said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
And there’s no doubt the Mississauga Pakmen 17u Gold team makes a habit of excelling through hard work.
The Pakmen guaranteed themselves the No. 1 seed at the upcoming Ontario championships with a sweep at the 17u Boys Bugarski Cup-Grand Prix in Welland last week (March 7-8).
Entering the 12-team provincial tune-up at Niagara College, the Pakmen had yet to lose a 17u event this indoor season. From the Provincial Cup in November, to the Challenge Cup in December and the Can-Am tournament in January, the Pakmen remained undefeated.
If the stress of remaining perfect was taking its toll on the team, it never showed, as the Pakmen defeated London Heat 25-22, 25-18; Northumberland Breakers 25-14, 25-15; and Kitchener Waterloo Predators Purple 25-15, 25-12 in Saturday’s preliminary round.The next day, the Pakmen continued to excel with a 25-22, 25-16 win over Leaside in the quarters, a 25-17, 25-14 victory over Niagara Rapids in the semi-finals, and a 25-16, 25-23 triumph over the Heat in the championship.
And team captain Parvir Jhajj emphasizes the team continues to improve each time the players take to the floor, whether it be tournament play, or any of their three weekly practices.
“We are playing much better now as opposed to back in September and this is all because of our coaches, who put in there time to help us become better athletes and help us build more knowledge of the game.”
The 6-foot-2 left side was referring to the leadership of head coach Orest Stanko, and assistants Karim Khalil and Aleksander Mamuzic, who constantly stress the importance of playing as one.
“We’ve become very strong as a unit because we play as a team, which means you’re not only playing for yourself, but for the person next to you. And that really motivates us to do better,” said the Grade 11 student.
Other members of the team include, Sharone Vernon-Evans, Jonathan Reid, Jak Paterson, Tomas Sorra, Liam Butchereit, Jordan Figueira, Alex Reiner, Tucker Johnson, Andrew Simon, Joel Lillycrop and Malcolm Prentice.
Together, they hope to continue their winning ways April 10-12 at RIM Park in Waterloo against the province’s best sides, including “nemeses” London Heat and Scarborough Titans.
“They both are always great competition to play against,” says Jhajj. “And it always comes down to who’s more determined and focused.”