After years of uncertain funding and equally uncertain coaching, volleyball for the men’s team at the College of New Caledonia has something to be excited about.
The excitement surrounds Murray Laidlaw, who’s returned to Prince George from playing professional volleyball in Europe to head the CNC Kodiaks next season.
Laidlaw played in Indonesia and three seasons in Europe, playing in Holland, Sweden and most recently, Switzerland.
Laidlaw is excited about heading the Kodiaks, who’ve suffered recently as the college hesitated about funding the athletic program until this past year when it committed to the sport.
The Kodiaks finished last season at he bottom of the ranking with a 0-16 record.
Part of the problem, Laidlaw believes, is the talented Prince George volleyball players leave the city when they start college.
“My goal is to keep Prince George talent in Prince George.”
He hopes his own talent and experience will help keep players around after they graduate from high school.
“I think it’s good for young guys to stay in their community and develop at the college level before going on to university.”
Laidlaw graduated from Kelly Road and played with the Prince George Youth Volleyball Club before going to Grand Prairie Regional College and eventually the University of Manitoba, where he played two seasons.
Ann Oishi, the athletics and recreation coordinator at the college, is excited Laidlaw has been added to the Kodiaks’ program.
“We’re hoping to create lots of buzz with the existing players and the high school players,” Oishi said.
There have been three coaches in the last five years, Oishi said, and that’s been an issue. The program has been lucky to have coaches like Glen Wong step in to carry the program, she said, and Wong will stay on to help Laidlaw in the upcoming season.
Kodiaks players Mike Dolman and Brennan Veeken are looking forward to volleyball with Laidlaw at the helm.
“It’s just nuts,” Dolman says. “He’s so good and experienced. A coach like that can help improve every level of the game.”
Veeken, the team’s setter, hopes Laidlaw’s reputation will help recruit more players to the team.
Laidlaw is looking forward to recruiting and he’s already drawing some talent for the coaching side.
Jason Weaver, who Laidlaw calls “one of the greatest Kelly Road players of all time,” will help with the team, and he’s drawing friends from his European and college teams to help with the program.