As the 2015/16 winter sports season begins, The Whistler Question is paying tribute to the coaches that are helping raise Whistler’s next generation of professional athletes.
One of the most flourishing sports clubs during Whistler’s summers is the Whistler Outdoor Volleyball Association (WOVA). With humble beginnings of tournament matches among Whistler’s food and beverage workers, the volleyball scene began to grow rapidly when Scott Rogers founded WOVA over a decade ago. Now every year reaching its capacity of around 300 members in 60 teams, five divisions with three levels of play, WOVA continues to grow the sport of volleyball by running youth camps and exhibition tournaments. Rogers himself continues to work beyond the summer by coaching teams at Whistler Secondary School in the fall.
The Question: What was the volleyball scene like when you first moved to Whistler?
Scott Rogers: Back then there was a one-day hospitality tournament hosted by Joe Kovacs and the folks at the Crab Shack. It was basically grass court tournaments with six or eight teams made up of bar and restaurant staff. That introduced me to some of the players and I also discovered Rainbow Park when there were originally two courts. From spending time down there I got organized and started collecting phone numbers and would send text messages to everyone the morning of. Sometimes we’d get three players, sometimes we’d get 10.
Q: When did you start to see the spike in popularity for volleyball?
SR: I scheduled meetings with the municipality and we talked about what we wanted to do and what our vision for the program was. We got the permission and it started with me walking around the Village with black and white printed documents that said “beach volleyball league” with a time and date for people to show up. Now we’ve plateaued with growth, with around 300 players.
Q: Has social media helped you run the club and better organize the leagues?
SR: It helps organize people better, but it definitely makes more work. One of the things that I’ve learned is that you can never communicate too much when it comes to getting people focused and motivated. I have email addresses, I have Facebook, I have text messaging and we built a new website last year. I’m looking to profile some of our players as well, those that have been with us for five years or more.
Q: WOVA has a really wide spectrum of play levels and competitiveness. Was that a part of your vision for the club?
SR: That’s the best thing about it. It’s the type of game that you can get introduced to at any stage of your life and still have a great time. If you stick with it and develop yourself then you can find that the game has more to offer in terms of tactical dynamics. It’s fun for everybody to watch when the ball is going back and forth over the net, rallies when everybody is cheering and diving, whether it’s at the recreational level or when it’s at the highest level. For me it’s fun to watch players develop and enjoy themselves.
Q: You have a busy summer with the WOVA league and then coach the high school teams in the fall. Does that give you some variety in your role with Whistler volleyball?
SR: It’s more of a coaching role with the high school teams. With the league it’s more organizing and promoting with some coaching and playing. I’m excited to have the high school players participate in the youth camps and introduce them to the beach aspect of it.