PREP VOLLEYBALL: Young Bruins team looks to revive program
Special to The Union
After a one year hiatus the Bear River Bruins volleyball program has been restored and its brought a familiar face back with it.
Making his return is head coach Jonathan Good, who sat at the helm for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, then took a break and assisted Matt MacDonald with the junior varsity girls for 10 years.
“I left for a job in 2009 and when I came back (Lance Mansuetti) was doing a great job, and so he just rolled with it and they were having some good years,” said Good. “He left to go to NU, doing great up there. (Duwaine) Ganskie was asking me to do the boys for a while. My wife was pregnant so I wasn’t sure if I wanted the commitment, but then he contacted me again a couple weeks before the season. I’m glad to be here. Came back, didn’t know what to expect, but these kids are good.”
Trying to rebound off a 2017 season that never quite got off the ground, Good is confident the program is headed back in the right direction. Lack of interest from athletes who eventually quit last year resulted in an already small roster dissolving the team altogether.
“Coming into a program that’s so fragile, people quit for one reason or another,” added Good. “I kind of want to sit back and see what they can do on their own without me being that overly aggressive coach. Really just not getting in their face, I don’t get up in the game and yell at them, things like that. I help them with the little things, we run drills like everybody else. Mostly focused on playing the game because they haven’t played together a lot. A lot of 6-on-6 to get them comfortable together. We’re ahead of where I thought we’d be for sure at this point. I let them have fun and when they have fun they get better, so I think that’s what I bring.”
Because this is more-or-less a rebuilding year for Bear River, its 11-man roster is too thin to enable a junior varsity squad, which means everyone is playing up and getting experience at the varsity level. The squad is comprised of only three upperclassmen, two seniors, Sam Nichols and Trevor Chandler, and junior Noah Skowronski.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but overall it’s going to be a pretty good season especially from not having a team here last year,” said Nichols, who has been playing since middle school and boasts a couple years club experience. “It was nice that a lot of kids who didn’t come out last year came out this year. I consider myself a consistent player. I always try to be there, passing balls. I like how fast paced volleyball is. Every set there’s just a bunch of rallies and it’s really competitive in that way.”
Thus far the Bruins (6-3 overall, 3-3 Sierra Valley Conference) haven’t played in any tournaments, but they’ve managed to stay competitive in their league, knocking off Capital Christian, Cordova and Lincoln all in straight sets.
“We’re coming along pretty well,” added Skowronski, who’s also been playing since middle school. “We have two seniors. I’m a junior and everyone else is freshmen or sophomores. I played varsity two years ago as a freshman. It’s fun. You get a really nice thrill when you go up and get a really good hit.”
With all these new faces the team has done surprisingly well considering they’re still building a chemistry with each other and their coach.
“I was one of the lucky ones because they didn’t have enough from middle school so I played from sixth grade up and ever since I’ve just loved the sport,” said freshman outside hitter Jace Rath. “Like Sam, I played some club when I was younger, and being on varsity I want to try and up the program from what it became because of last year’s team. Overall I just want to have fun and have a really good team. (Good) is a really good coach. He pushes us to try new things and become the best as possible and really push ourselves.”
Currently the Bruins find themselves in the middle of the pack, sitting alone in fourth place in the SVC standings, just one game back of third place Union Mine. El Dorado sits atop the standings and Placer is second.
“This year hopefully we’ll make playoffs,” said Good. “We’ll play Union Mine probably for that spot and then the next couple years we should be looking for Section championships.”
Next up Bear River (6-3, 3-3 SVCL) hosts Capital Christian at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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