Abbotsford/Chilliwack – University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball coach Kyle Donen has added four B.C. high school standouts to his roster for the 2015-16 season, and provincial championship success is the common denominator.
Setter/right side Tyler Patrick and libero Evan Bell-Foley helped South Surrey’s Earl Marriott Mariners win back-to-back B.C. AAA titles in 2013 and 2014. Ben Friesen, a left side out of Abbotsford’s Mennonite Educational Institute, also won provincial gold last season as his Eagles took the AA crown. And Cole Nutma, a versatile attacker who can play left side, right side and middle, earned a silver medal at the B.C. Single A championship with Terrace’s Centennial Christian Seahawks.
“These players have definitely shown their ability to win,” Donen enthused. “Not only do they know how to win, but they know how to lead by example on the floor. I have had a chance to watch each of them play in different pressure situations and how they all handle themselves through the good and the bad is something that stands out. My hope is that they bring that mental toughness and winning attitude to our team for this year and years to come.”
Evan Bell-Foley, South Surrey, 6’0” libero
Bell-Foley’s sensational senior season included all-star honours at the Fraser Valley championships and a second team all-star nod at AAA provincials. He played his club volleyball with the Surrey Eagles 97’s, and plans to study engineering at UFV.
“I am very excited to call myself a Cascade,” Bell-Foley said. “It is very humbling and reassuring knowing that I will have a spot on a team come fall 2015. I am pumped to be able to both follow my academic and athletic passions at the same university.”
“Evan is an emotional player who thrives on the defensive end and does a great job managing the backcourt,” Donen said. “He has been a sparkplug on each of the teams he’s competed on this year and I can’t wait to have his energy on the floor for us next season.”
Ben Friesen, Abbotsford, 6’3” left side
Friesen’s high school career included a AA provincial bronze medal in 2013 in addition to the gold medal last season. He also won a national club championship in 2010 with the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club, and was a tournament all-star at the 2012 B.C. Junior Boys Christian Schools Championship. Friesen, who played for Donen this spring with the Orangemen Volleyball Club, is enrolling in general studies at UFV.
“I’m looking forward to playing with a great group of players and coaches that are going to help me improve and find my role on the team,” he said. “If that’s being the best freshman bench warmer the team has ever seen, bring it on.”
“Ben has been a great leader for our club team all season long and I think his abilities will transfer well to the college game,” Donen said. “His overall ball control is exceptional, and that will allow him to compete at various positions on our team. I’m really excited to see Ben grow as a player and take his game to new heights this coming season.”
Cole Nutma, Terrace, 6’2” left side/right side/middle
Nutma helped Centennial Christian to an unprecedented run of volleyball success. The Seahawks earned B.C. Single A bronze and silver medals in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and those were the first provincial medals in program history. Nutma was a Northwest zone all-star and a provincial second-team all-star in 2013, and he upgraded to Northwest MVP and provincial first-team honours last season.
Joel and Kristine Ewald, Cascades volleyball alumni who coach at Centennial Christian, helped pave Nutma’s road to UFV by contacting Donen about the young prospect.
“I chose UFV because it seemed like the perfect fit, not only as athlete but also has a student,” said Nutma, who plans to pursue a bachelor of science degree at UFV. “My goal as a Cascade athlete is to always stay positive and give my 100 per cent at everything. I’m extremely excited for what the future holds.”
“I have a had a chance to get to know Cole really well over the course of our many emails,” Donen said. “Later on he made a visit to Abbotsford and I think UFV became just the perfect fit for him. Coming from a much smaller town it’s a tough decision to leave home but I believe Cole will thrive in our team environment both on and off the floor. He is an extremely hard worker and is driven to succeed at the next level. The versatility that Cole will bring to our team as an all-around solid player should add another level to the competitiveness of our team.”
Tyler Patrick, White Rock, 6’3” setter/right side
Patrick, who played alongside Bell-Foley with both the Marriott Mariners and the Eagles 97’s, was not only a two-time high school provincial champion, he also won a pair of Tier 2 beach volleyball titles and notched a fifth-place finish at nationals with his club team.
“I’m excited to attend UFV and stay near my friends and family while receiving an education,” said Patrick, who plans to study arts at UFV. “While I’m among the Cascades, my goal will be to meet as many new people as possible along with becoming the best volleyball player I can.”
“Tyler is a lefty, which will definitely add a different element to our team,” Donen said. “In the last year Tyler has done a little bit of everything – he’s played power, right side and this past club season he trained as a setter. I’d really like to narrow Tyler’s focus and have him develop as an outside hitter. I think it’s great he’s learned to play so many positions but now we can focus in on one area, which will allow him to improve his overall skill package. Given the right opportunity and I really think Tyler will thrive at this level.”