The Red Deer Kings Volleyball program received a prestigious honour over the weekend as eight of its recent teams as well as a former player, Gavin Schmitt, were inducted into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Hall of Fame.
“It was a pretty cool experience for sure. It was nice to get a group of guys together that you haven’t seen in a while and guys that played a major role in this whole thing, and it was pretty cool to be a part of all of those other athletes and coaches and inductees. It was a pretty neat experience altogether,” said Blake Henwood, one of the players on the team of eight inducted.
Henwood is currently the assistant coach for the men’s volleyball team and played at the College from 2002 to 2005.
At the induction ceremony, the RDC Kings Volleyball teams from 1999-2000 to 2006-2007 received the prestigious accolade under the Team Category.
The teams made ACAC and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) history when they won eight ACAC and eight national championships in a row – the longest run in CCAA history for any sport.
Keith Hansen, who was head coach for seven of the eight teams inducted, acknowledged the importance of the award and the honour for the teams to be part of the ACAC Hall of Fame.
“The commitment to excellence across all the ACAC institutions created wonderful competition that really did prepare us for national championships,” he said.
“I think a lot of our successes had to do with being pushed by other colleges and the great programs they ran. This league is definitely one we can be proud of.”
When he looked back on the RDC teams, Hansen noted they had a commitment to excellence and a strong work ethic that helped to raise the bar for what was possible.
During the 2006-07 year, Schmitt was a pivotal part of the Kings Volleyball team winning their eighth consecutive championship title.
Schmitt will be inducted into the ACAC Hall of Fame under the Athlete Category at the upcoming induction ceremony.
Although Schmitt wasn’t able to attend the Ceremony, Henwood said to be in the same year as him was pretty cool.
“He’s kind of the face of Team Canada Volleyball so it was definitely pretty special to be named and inducted at the same time as him,” he said.
From 2007 to 2016, Schmitt played with the Canadian Men’s Volleyball Team and was instrumental in helping to build the program into a top 10 team in the world.
He has also spent the past 10 years playing professional volleyball in top leagues, including Korea, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Poland.
Schmitt transferred to Red Deer College from the University of Saskatchewan and it all took off from there.
“He was obviously super talented to begin with, but it seemed like every day, every week, every month he was getting better and better and just took his game from a college level to a national team and international level within a few years after that.”
Schmitt just finished playing a year of professional volleyball in Poland and just signed a new contract for next year in Japan or Korea and recently retired from the College’s National Team.
“So he’ll no longer be representing Team Canada but he’s still going to try and play professionally for the next years until I think his body says ‘I can’t do it anymore’.”