A local sporting dynasty ended on a high note last month when the WinMan Legends won gold at the 18-and-under club volleyball national championship.
The 2-0 win over the Northern Alberta Volleyball Club in Edmonton gave the club’s core group of players its second national title to go along with one silver and one bronze, as well as five consecutive provincial championships.
"It was definitely a very special group," said Tim Au, WinMan’s club director. "To be dominant at provincials each year and to medal almost every year at nationals is pretty incredible."
The majority of the players — many of whom are from the northeast part of the city — joined forces six years ago and have stayed together ever since.
Adam Schriemer, an East Kildonan resident who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, said the familiarity the players had for one another was one of the team’s greatest assets.
"I think it starts off with our coaching," he said. "The system worked very well. And we’ve been together so long, we know what the other players are like and what we need to do to play together at our best."
Coached by Don Dulder, this year’s team faced a setback on Easter weekend when it lost twice to its Northern Alberta rival at a tournament in Calgary.
"I think it was a good thing for them to go out west and lose to that team twice in a row," Au said. "It sent a message that we’ve got some work to do if we’re going to win the ultimate goal in May."
The message was well received, as the team played some of its best volleyball down the stretch, eventually scoring a 25-21, 25-21 win in the national final to exact its revenge.
"It was very important (to go out with a win)," said Schriemer, who’s set to graduate from Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute and will be playing volleyball next year for Trinity Western University in B.C.
"We talked about how we’ve been together so long, and how we wanted to end it off right. We had won one national championship already (in 2011) and knew how great it feels."
Schriemer wasn’t the only WinMan player to be honoured at the tournament. Josh Goossen and David Bommersbach were named tournament all-stars, and both will be moving on to university volleyball.
"Quite a few are (going to the next level)," Au said, "but for some this is it for their volleyball careers."
Au said the group’s success has had an impact not just at the WinMan club, but throughout the local volleyball community.
"Our organization is kind of like a family, where the younger players look up to the older kids," he said.
"So they’re definitely role models for the younger groups, and also for other athletes in Manitoba."