Back on June 11, Volleyball Canada made an initial decision to cancel all national summer team training camps for the rest of the summer because of the coronavirus that has had a major impact on the sports world.
However, training for the national men's team has now resumed at the Centre Sportif de Gatineau in Gatineau, Quebec. When it comes to how the organization is handling junior teams, they're doing things virtually.
Beginning next Monday, Volleyball Canada will hold Zoom meetings with a select list of players who have bright futures and are officially on the radar of the national team.
Just six Manitobans have been invited to take part in the U19 men's virtual training camp, one of which is from Dauphin. JJ Love who was recently named the varsity boys athlete of the year at the DRCSS has cracked the invitee list.
Team Canada has prepared the program to further connect, educate, and continue the development of the selected athletes as Canada looks towards World Championship qualification in 2021.
In a statement, Dawna Sales, Director of Athlete, and Coach Pathways had this to say.
"While every coach and athlete would love to be in the gym, we recognize the significant challenge we all are facing during the pandemic. It is critical that our coaches and athletes continue to develop athletes through high-performance pathways toward the men’s and women’s indoor national teams," offered Sales. "To work with world-leading professional staff that traditionally wouldn’t be available in July to our youth and junior athletes is just one of the opportunities to extend our programs."
Being invited to this camp is the first step in Love achieving his goal of cracking the senior men's team.
"It's a huge honour to be selected, there are so many great players in this country and I'm thrilled that I was chosen," said Love. "I just have to keep working as hard as I can, I want to make that senior men's team in the future."
The senior men's team has become one of the best in the world. Currently ranked as the 7th best team in the world, Canada has qualified to take part in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. The U19 team is currently ranked in a tie for 72nd in the world.
The last time Canada took part in the FIVB Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship was back in 2005 when they placed 13th. Brazil leads the list with seven total medals, six of which are gold.
Love knows making the senior national team won't be an easy feat; however, he's ready for the challenge ahead and he's certainly achieved the first step by being invited to the U19 virtual camp.
"I just have to take things one practice at a time and continue to work hard," continued Love. "Nothing is guaranteed, I'm ready to grind it out and give it my best."
JJ will return to the DRCSS where he'll look to defend his athlete of the year award when the volleyball season begins in September.