Growing up, Jonah Brodeur played a lot of different sports. When he was nine years old, he was first introduced to volleyball, and has been hooked ever since.
“I play school badminton, but other than that, it’s pretty much volleyball,” says Brodeur, a lifelong Wolfville resident. The 17-year-old will enter Grade 12 at Horton this fall.
This past year, he played both school volleyball for Horton and club volleyball with the Metro Tigers after several years with the Valley Waves club program.
“I’ve had fantastic coaching over the years here in the Valley, but I wanted the chance to experience different coaching,” he said. “I feel it’s important to always be learning.”
This past season, Horton claimed the silver medal at NSSAF provincials for a second straight year.
“I have two provincial silver medals from school competition, and two from club provincials,” Brodeur said.
“Hopefully, one of these days, it will be gold, though I’m not really hung up on that. You always play to win, but the goal is to continue to improve, both individually and as a team. If you’re improving, it’s not as disheartening when you don’t always win.”
Representing Nova Scotia
This is Brodeur’s third year with the Volleyball Nova Scotia provincial program. After a year on the U-16 team, he moved on to the U-19 team.
From July 17-20, he was in Gatineau, QC with the provincial team at the National Team Challenge Cup (NTCC). Nova Scotia won its first game against Quebec, but lost all its other games. This, he pointed out, was still better than 2013, when Nova Scotia lost all its games.
“(A year ago), we never won a set. This year, we won five sets, which we all saw as a big improvement,” Brodeur said.
“When we compete at nationals, the players are all so much bigger. You have to play smart if you want to have a chance of winning.”
Despite all the enhanced opportunities for training and development, “it’s never easy playing with players from all around the province, and only having about two weeks to prepare and get used to one another,” he added.
“Even in the games and sets we lost (at nationals), the scores were close. Sets go to 25, and even when we lost, we usually scored over 20.”
Brodeur tried out for the provincial team as well.
“There’s a selection process. You can be selected from your club team, or you can attend a series of selection camps.”
Once chosen for the provincial program, players attend a week-long elite development camp, which serves as the final tryout for the provincial team.
Brodeur is looking forward to another appearance at nationals this summer. He has played beach volleyball for the past three years and will compete at beach volleyball nationals Aug. 22-24 in Toronto.
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He believes volleyball, whether it’s played in a gym or on the beach, is a sport that’s growing.
“I enjoy talking to, and dealing with, young players. I may even want to be a coach someday.”
Volleyball about strategy
Brodeur credits Dave Harris with introducing him to volleyball.
“Dave coached me in basketball, badminton and track when I was in Grade 4. He was also starting a volleyball program. I was nine years old – it feels like a long time ago.”
Brodeur, who normally is an outside hitter on either the left or right side, said volleyball is “different than the other sports I’ve played. It’s less about brute force and more about strategy. There are lots of options when you have the ball.”
At the same time, though, it’ s a team game.
“You have to play as a team, and communication is the key.”
For a player entering Grade 12, Brodeur says there are several options for a volleyball player, including CIS or college level, the junior national team, the senior national B team and the senior national A team.
“A lot of our national players also play professionally, mostly in Europe or in South America,” he added.
When he was starting out, Harris would bring in Horton players.
“I’d tell myself I’d like to be where they were someday. Now that I’m there, I look at CIS players and tell myself I’d like to be where they are. And as a member of the provincial team, there’s always one of the national teams to strive toward,” he said.
The NTCC chooses players for the junior national team, he explained.
“I’m not there yet, but I get to play against people who are. It’s great experience, and inspires a person to do better in order to reach that level,” he added.
After graduating from Grade 12, Brodeur hopes to play volleyball while at college or university.
“They’re not easy teams to make. When you make a team like that, your goal becomes helping the team do well,” he said.
As he is not yet in Grade 12, he has had no contact from CIS coaches.
“It’s not like it is in the States, where you can be talking to coaches, and them to you, by Grade 9,” he said.
“There are always lots of coaches at NTCC. I’ll just have to see what happens. There’s always the college route to consider as well.”
Wherever he ends up, an education, and finding a program he likes, will come first.
“I love volleyball, and I want to play, but I won’t go to a school that isn’t the right fit for me, just to play volleyball.”