HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
Ottawa elementary school teacher Colin Walker, a volleyball coach at many levels for more than 30 years, has a straightforward coaching philosophy: “provide the environment where the athlete can succeed.”
The Trent University Excalibur is waiting for him with open arms, after hiring him as its new head coach of the varsity men’s volleyball program for the 2021-22 season. The Excalibur program hopes he brings the athletic key to succeed.
The university announced in September 2015 that it was leaving the Ontario College Athletic Association after 12 years and joining the OUA for the 2016-17 season. It has been a difficult journey for Excalibur.
In its four OUA seasons, the Excalibur has won only one match, while recording 71 losses. That first-ever victory came late in the 2019-20 season by a 3-2 decision over Royal Military College. RMC scored an earlier season win 3-2.
“I’m ready to come in with new information and knowledge for the student-athletes and help them move their careers, both academically and in volleyball, to the next level,” Walker said in a news release.
“The role is to do the best that we can and be the best person we can possibly be, so that on and off the court, in the classroom, in the community, with your family, you’re always pursuing to become better. I hope I can bring that type of mentality to the student-athletes.”
Besides being a teacher and volleyball coach, Walker is the founder and president of SportsCan, which provides multiple services to athletes and coaches so they can develop to their full potential.
SportsCan started in 1996 and offers elite athlete development programs, sport-specific camp and workshop programs, Coaching the Coach mentoring, and national coaching certification courses.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue developing an up-and-coming team and to take it to higher heights,” Walker added. “Looking at the last few years, the program has come a long way from its initial start in the OUA.
“It is starting to gain a reputation and people are starting to take notice. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of coming in and building on this strong legacy.”
Walker started coaching at the Ottawa high school level with boys and girls’ teams at Ridgemont, Brookfield and Glebe between 1986 to 2012.
For the past 20 years, he has coached Ottawa club teams – Kangaroo, Fusion and Maverick. He also has had volleyball coaching assignments with the University of Ottawa men’s club team as well as provincial and national squads.
He was the Team Ontario boys’ coach in 1994-95 and 2006, the Volleyball Canada national youth men’s 17U head coach in 2016 and 2017, and the Ontario Region 6 boys’ indoor (1993, 1999) and boys and girls’ beach coach (2012, 2014).
“His experience will continue to help to develop the Excalibur student-athletes both on and off the court,” Trent director of Athletics and Recreation Deborah Bright-Brundle said in the news release.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the new Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.