Above: Grade 10 MCHS Students, Andrew Seguin and Carter Hills pose with their U16 NAVC coaches, Ken McLaughlin (head coach) and Andre Arsenault (assistant coach). The team recently won Provincial Championships and placed fourth in Nationals.

by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent

Two local teens have burst onto Alberta’s volleyball scene in a big way.

Carter Hills and Andrew Seguin, grade 10 students from Morinville Community High School (MCHS), have taken their sport by storm. Lately, they’ve been spending their time winning championships, being recognized as tournament All-Stars, and receiving invitations to try-out with volleyball’s best-of-the-best.

Both boys play for the U16 Northern Alberta Volleyball Club (NAVC), which is based out of Edmonton; their head coach, Ken McLaughlin, said only the most elite athletes in the region make it onto the NAVC team. He elaborated, saying Hills and Seguin stand out for all the right reasons, “they are so dedicated to their sport—they just love volleyball. I really think their work ethic has something to do with where they come from.” McLaughlin also credits the athletes’ parents, saying success at this level means a big commitment from families as well.

NAVC recently won the Provincial Championship title and then moved on to Canadian Nationals, where they took fourth place. In Provincials, Seguin was recognized as the tournament All-Star, while Hills was the tournament All-Star at Nationals.

Hills started playing volleyball in grade seven, after being introduced to the sport by his older brother, Evan. “I think volleyball is just fun, and it’s a great way to meet friends and to challenge yourself to get better,” explained Hills in an interview. The athlete said he learned a lot this year from his coach, Ken; “I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without Ken’s help.”

Hills was recently invited to try out for Team Canada (in Youth Volleyball). “I’ll be going to the West [try-out] Camp in Abbottsford, BC,” stated Hills, “with about 30 other kids. If I make that team, in July I’ll get to train with them for a week and then play in a five-day tournament in Florida.” Hills laughed, saying he was so excited when he found out he’d been invited to try-out for Team Canada; “I looked at the email and I was so happy I just ran up to my mom and screamed.”

Last week, Hills also found out he is being awarded the (male) Alberta Athlete of the Year Award in Volleyball.

Hills’ mom, Laurie, said she is immensely proud of her son. “Whatever Carter has ever tried—whether it be volleyball or even playing with a yo-yo—he is dedicated to learning how to become good at it…his work ethic is undeniable when he’s pursuing something he enjoys,” she said.

The volleyball player said, looking beyond the Team Canada try-outs, his game plan is to focus on one thing at a time, adding, however, that he will do everything in his power to one day win a National Championship.
As for Seguin, he too started playing volleyball around 12 years-of-age, also encouraged to play after seeing his older brothers, Luke and Craig, playing the sport. “Honestly, [I love volleyball] because it’s not one of those super intense sports. It’s just kind of chill: you go out and have a fun time,” said Seguin.

“I’ve never been around someone who’s improved so much in a single season,” explained McLaughlin, the NAVC Coach. “He’s becoming well known in the volleyball community now and a lot of that has to do with his consistency on the court.”

Seguin said winning the Provincial title and then being recognized as the tournament All-Star was something special for him; “It felt really good because, at our age, you don’t always know if you’re on the right path. It was great to get some reassurance.”

Seguin has also been invited to try-out for volleyball’s Team Alberta: invitations only 30 kids in the province received. If he is successful, Seguin will play in a tournament in Quebec this July.

The athlete, who plays the position of setter, explained his family has a lot to do with keeping him on track. “They don’t let me get carried away with anything, they are good reminders on staying humble,” remarked Seguin, who said, at first, his dad wasn’t exactly thrilled that his son was giving up hockey to pursue volleyball. “He’s coming around now though,” joked the 16-year-old.

One day, Seguin hopes to play for the U21 Junior National Team and said he would love to play in post-secondary. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, though, so I’ll just see what comes,” he concluded.
Seguin’s mom, Anita, said watching both Andrew and Carter succeed has been wonderful; “they were fortunate to have had amazing coaches this year. It was a super year because they did well at school and with the club team,” she said.

Hills and Seguin both plan on trying out for the MCHS volleyball team next year when they start grade 11.

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