With their trainers laced, knee pads in place, and their hopes high, 50 young athletes stepped onto the volleyball court at John Gray High School for a chance to earn a spot in the Cayman Islands Youth National Team Development Programme earlier this month.
Leading up to the tryouts on April 5 and 8, there were several youth development sessions, so the coaches saw plenty of familiar faces on the day of the tryouts.
Visiting Coach Rick Bevis ran the tryouts and was assisted by Mark Ray, head coach for the girls’ team, Marcus Patterson, head coach for the boys’ team, and CIVF’s technical director Javid Ali.
Also helping out were volunteer coaches Prakash Ramnani, Shannon Emslie, Tiana Larios, Ryan McKillop, Meghan O’Dorehty, Junior Welcome, as well as National Team players Jessica Wolfenden, Casey Santamaria, Richard Campbell and Illean Powery.
Following the tryouts, the coaches met and deliberated which of the 14-19 year-old athletes would be selected for the Cayman Islands Youth National Team Development Programme. There were several factors that weighed into their selection criteria, which included “physical attributes, skill level, coachability, discipline, versatility, and team player characteristics”, said coach Patterson.
After much deliberation, 18 boys and 18 girls were selected and received their letters to confirm their acceptance, organisers said in a press release.
The Youth National Team will be chosen from this development programme and will represent Cayman at international events. The teams include 16 Caymanians boys and 11 Caymanian girls.
The new members of the boys team are: Adrian Anglin, Alex Cummer, Corey Westerborg, Curtis Eldemire, Dylan Dacosta, Evan Murray, Garick Green, Jacob McMillen-Collett, Jake Serpell, James Powell, Jamie Piper, Jeremy Scott, Kayden Knapik, Liran Blake, Oskar Bjuroe, Travis Douglas, Tye Campbell and Yanick Haylock.
The girls team members are: Alia Smith, Anjia Delapenha, Chloe Bentick-Lalli, Daniela Suarez, Delaini Ducent, Denise Suico, Evie Nicholson, Geneve Magnan, Jenna Edwards, Jenny Purton, Joanna Robinson, Kaylee Scott, Lauren Fullerton, Maryn McCoombs, Megan McCoombs, Sadie Finch, Willow Williams and Yesha Manoy.
With the Under-19 Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) games quickly approaching in July, the coaches and athletes have their work cut out for them.
“The vision of the federation to invest in youth will certainly pay dividends in the medium to long term, as the young ladies receive more exposure to high level play,” coach Patterson said in the press release. “At various age-specific tournaments, the squad can also be supplemented by older girls who have shown their talent to participate, but are too old for this particular programme. This national youth volleyball squad is the future of volleyball in the Cayman Islands, and they are truly representative of exciting times ahead.”
Coach Bevis thanked the school coaches for their contributions, saying, “The coaches in the school system have been very supportive of the CIVF youth initiatives.”
He added, “I am looking forward to working with all the selected athletes, both indoors and on the beach. For those athletes that were not selected, there will be more opportunities presented to develop their potential in the near future.”
One upcoming event will be CIVF’s annual Big-Little event, where athletes ages 8-18 are paired with a current or former national team player. This is expected to take place at Public Beach on Saturday, May 25.
To register for the Big-Little event or for more information, email [email protected]