Hatzic’s volleyball leadership class.

Players learning leadership

Grade 10 girls volleyball team playing tonight at 7 p.m.

A board-approved course developed by a Hatzic Secondary School teacher is allowing volleyball players to learn the finer points of the game all while helping younger students succeed in the sport.

The Volleyball Leadership program offers skills and officiating for Grade 10s, leadership and management at Grade 11 and mentorship for Grade 12 students, with volunteer commitments running 12 hours in the first year, 20 in the second, and 30 in the third and fourth years, said Carolyn Chezzi, program creator.

The course is out of cycle with the rest of the school, meaning students must attend in mornings and on weekends, she explained.

“We provide a safe, fun, encouraging environment for all abilities,” said the HSS teacher, who runs the classes alongside fellow educator Lorraine Mar.

Between 30-40 students are currently taking part, said Chezzi, who said the impetus for the program was a shortage of coaching staff and referees. Many of the students become certified volleyball referees which enables them to officiate matches and, eventually, get paid.

Four tournaments a year are organized through the program, and the leadership students also go out to Mission elementary schools to help coach and mentor the younger players.

Mar’s Grade 10 girls team has been having a phenomenal season, said Chezzi.

The group finished first in the Abbotsford/Mission league and is ranked second going into the Fraser Valleys after defeating MEI, Earl Marriot and Kelowna secondary schools in the past couple weeks.

Starting today (Nov. 15), HSS will be hosting Walnut Grove and Surrey Christian starting at 5 p.m., and Hatzic will play the winner at 7 p.m., said Chezzi.

The next games will be at DW Poppy in Langley Friday and Saturday and the top five finishing teams will move onto provincials.