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A mentor’s passion

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At the height of hockey season, it is sometimes easy to forget the variety of sports played competitively every day in our communities. Volleyball is one such sport, and the reason

Winnipeg enjoys a reputation as a volleyball centre is thanks in part to the dedication of coaches such as Jonathan Hykawy.

Hykawy has been coaching volleyball for 30 years, and he remains as passionate about the sport today as he was when playing in high school.

Hykawy first got into coaching when he broke his thumb and had to stop playing his favourite sports. So he started coaching volleyball right out of high school, at the age of 17. By the time he was 19, Hykawy was at the Canada Games as an assistant coach to the Manitoba volleyball team.

In the mid-1980s, Hykawy found himself working tirelessly.

"I was coaching in the evenings then working my retail job through the midnight shift," he recalls. It was at this point that he realized he was meant to spend his life dedicating himself to coaching and to his players.

Volleyball isn’t just a sport. I teach my players life lessons they will be able to apply in life", he says. "I get satisfaction in seeing players move on to the university level to pursue their dreams. "

Hykawy has guided his teams to a long list of honours, including one silver and three bronze medals at the Canada Games, two gold medals at the Western Canadian Games, and 2 AAA varsity girls’ high school provincial championships.  

He says the highlight of his career came when he was invited to go to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games to watch the Canadian women’s volleyball team.

"I’ve considered myself lucky to have worked with such great people who want to share their time with me" Hykawy says.

Hykawy currently coaches the Cobras Volleyball Club, a club he created in 2007 for 16-17 year old girls wanting to train and complete at an elite level.

"My goal is to train these girls to reach their potential at a university level," Hykawy explains.  

In 2006 Hykawy won elite coach of the year honours from the Manitoba Volleyball Association, and he is currently working as a mentor, passing on his technique to the next generation of volleyball coaches.

Hykawy says he’s still learning new things and bettering himself as a coach.
"That’s how I know I’m not yet done with this sport and level of commitment," he says.

Alisa Pihulak is a community correspondent for Riverbend.

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