Friday, May 30, 2008

Campus Corner: Amoroso and Zeeman named to National Junior Team

Photo: Mike Amoroso prepares to serve at the OUA finals in Hamilton (Andrew Bucholtz photo).

Some interesting news on the volleyball front. After a four-day selection camp that wrapped up Wednesday, Gaels' right-side hitter Joren Zeeman and middle hitter Mike Amoroso were both named to the Canadian Junior National Team. Both were able to crack the Queen's starting lineup as rookies this year and played major roles in the team's OUA silver medals. Zeeman finished fourth in OUA competition in points per game (3.95) and sixth in kills per game (3.30). He also recorded 17 service aces, thirteenth amongst OUA athletes and third on the Gaels behind veterans Jeff DeMeza and Devon Miller, and he earned the Alfie Pierce Trophy as Queen's top male rookie and was named the OUA rookie of the year in men's volleyball. Amoroso led the Gaels' hitters with a 0.430 kill percentage, which was the 13th-best recorded in OUA competition. He had an excellent year, and managed to earn his way into the regular starting lineup after the Christmas break, no easy feat considering that the Gaels had a pair of fifth-year veterans (Chris Vandyk and Nick Gralewicz) at middle as well.

This is a pretty significant honour for both guys. As the Volleyball Canada press release states, "The purpose of the Junior National Team Program to identify, select and train a group of young athletes who have future Senior National Team potential and offer them the opportunity to train and represent Canada in international competition at an earlier age." Thus, both Zeeman and Amoroso could eventually crack the full national team and have the opportunity to represent Canada at world championships or the Olympics.

Here's the full lineup of athletes selected:

Josh Lichty – St. Catherines, ON
Marc Howatson - Victoria, BC
Jason DeRocco - Winnipeg, MB
Gord Perrin - Creston, BC
Frederic Mondou - Longeuil, QC

Joren Zeeman - Cambridge, ON

Mike Amoroso - Toronto, ON
Graham Vigrass - Calgary, AB
Rudy Verhoeff - Calgary, AB
Stéfan Savoie - Winnipeg, MB (alternate)

Ciaran McGovern - Grand Prairie, AB
Jay Blankeneau - Edmonton, AB

Pierre-Alexis Lapointe – La Malbaie, QC
Ryan Munt - Winnipeg, MB (alternate)

Head Coach: Chris Green – Winnipeg, MB
Assistant Coaches: Paul Armbruster – Lethbridge, AB
Luke Harris – St. John’s, NL

It's an impressive group. Four members of the CIS All-Rookie Team cracked the lineup: Zeeman, McMaster's Josh Lichty (brother of Queen's Luke Lichty), Thompson Rivers' Gord Perrin and Calgary's Ciaran McGovern. Amoroso will be competing with Calgary's Graham Vigrass and Trinity Western's Rudy Verhoeff at the middle position, while Thompson Rivers' Stefan Savoie will serve as an alternate. Zeeman is the only natural right-side hitter, meaning that one or more of the left-side hitters will likely be transferred to that side as a backup for him, but he should get a lot of the minutes there.

The main focus of this summer's program will be the 2008 NORCECA Junior Continental Championship, which takes place June 28 – July 6 El Salvador. The team will train together in Winnipeg until then.

-Volleyball Canada press release
-Queen's press release

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