High Schools Volleyball

HIGH ACHIEVERS: National all-star Teyven Blackmore has grown in many ways through volleyball

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Teyven Blackmore. Photo provided

By Martin Cleary

Everyone has had those remember-when moments, when something important didn’t go as planned. Instead, it became a motivating moment. Teyven Blackmore can relate to that.

When Blackmore was a Grade 8 student at Glashan Public School, he thought he’d try out for the highly acclaimed volleyball program at the downtown Ottawa elementary school to develop his skills for basketball.

But the more he worked on his volleyball skills, the more he loved the game. Basketball was pushed to the backburner. His new goal was to make the Grade 8 team, which was a long-time city and provincial powerhouse.

“The big team to be on was called the Glashan Spikers and was composed of only Grade 8s,” Blackmore explained in an email interview. “So, I knew it was for the big dogs at the time.

“My first time ever trying to hit a volleyball, I missed the ball completely, while the whole Grade 8 team was watching. From that moment, I didn’t just want to be on the team for clout. I wanted to start on the team to show that I was a big dog, too.”

Not only did his persistence and skill development allow him to play on the team, but also he helped the Spikers win city and provincial titles.

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Blackmore, a left-side player, went on to join the Ottawa Mavericks and Lisgar Collegiate Institute volleyball programs, was recruited to play for Team Ontario, and was selected to the 2020 youth national team.

As he graduates from Lisgar and prepares for his post-secondary education, Blackmore is waiting for his University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ volleyball signing day.

As he wrapped his life around volleyball practices, games and tournaments, he began to grow as an individual and as a student. He keeps going and progressing because of the connections he has made in the sport.

Teyven Blackmore. Photo provided

“When I first started, I would never make a sound and had an expressionless face, even after a huge point,” Blackmore added. “But with the help of the guys, I now consider my brothers, they made me a lot more extroverted than I ever would have been.

“Volleyball is already such a diverse sport. I made so many connections with people I played with or against of many different ethnic backgrounds, which is unlike any other sport I’ve played. Being biracial is especially difficult because finding your place is harder, especially when both groups see you as the other. In volleyball, I felt I fit right in.”

Blackmore wrote he “struggled a lot with the school environment,” but in the past two years he has become more academically focused. The honour-roll student has done his best work while listening to music outside.

In his four years of high school and club volleyball, Blackmore has compiled a large collection of team and individual honours. He helped the Lisgar Lords win the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association 2017 junior and 2019 senior titles.

His 2018-19 Mavericks season was quite remarkable – undefeated regular season, Grand Prix champion, Ontario Volleyball Association champion and Canadian silver medallist. He was an OVA silver medallist in 2018.

Individually, he was an OVA MVP and all-star in 2019, and named to the 2019 national championship all-star team. He also was an OVA all-star in 2020. The Ottawa Sports Awards dinner named him volleyball player of the year for 2019.

The 6-2 Blackmore added he has been influenced by many coaches and players in his volleyball journey. His coach Kerry MacLean “had a huge impact on me finding how big I could make myself in my sport.”

He also respected player Maxime Gratton, who he met at a Team Ontario camp. They were hard workers and Blackmore could see he was following in Gratton’s footsteps, whether it was winning an award or making a team.

“And the day he came up to me at the training camp and spoke with me made me want to put in more work than I ever had before so that we could play on the same court together,” Blackmore continued.

For the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blackmore trained twice a week with his team, worked out and had a monthly provincial team session. But since the December lockdown, there has been no volleyball.

At the University of Toronto, Blackmore hopes to study ecology, biology and environmental studies.

“I’ve always loved being outside and watching nature documentaries, like National Geographic,” he added. “Since I was a kid, I was always interested in nature, especially because I grew up close to the Canadian Museum of Nature. So, it was easy for me to develop a fascination with nature at a young age.”

Read More in this series on Ottawa’s HIGH SCHOOL BEST here.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.

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