By Thien Hunynh
Women’s volleyball coach Arif Nathoo knew he had something special from day one. It struck him at one of his practices when he told his team to stretch a bit before they started. Instead, they gathered in a tight circle and held an impromptu players-only meeting. They promised each other this will be their time, this will be their year.
Nathoo realized right then he had a winner. “We will win. We will make the playoffs,” he says emphatically.
It’s a pretty bold statement coming from a club who hasn’t entered post-season in a decade.
Nathoo started the rebuilding process when he took over as head coach three years ago. He is so confident that he thinks the Rams can wreak havoc in the playoffs. He believes they can pull of some upsets if they play against the weaker West division. “This will be the year that Ryerson volleyball history will change,” says Nathoo.
The reason for this year’s optimism rests mainly on the performances of three rookies. Liv Langkruis has been out of high school for two years but continue to play in club tournaments. The Rams are counting on Langkruis to be their offensive strength.
Alisha Myatt is described as the dirtiest player on the team. She doesn’t smell or anything, she just hustles and dives for every ball.
And Sounantha Chanthapanya will be their grinder and defensive specialist. She is a solid all-around player who will surprise people with her powerful spiking ability.
Rounding out the starting six are Julianne Greenridge, Heather Mackenzie and Chandra Feltus. Greenridge and Mackenzie are co-captains this year and are expected to be the vocal leaders. Feltus is a skilled defensive specialist who is the most boisterous one on the team. On a squad full of quiet, unassuming women, she sticks out like Mary Albert at La Senza.
Nathoo believes his starting six is the strongest line-up the Rams have had in years, but it’s the bench that could make the difference this season. “I don’t have to worry if one of my starts has a bad day,” says Nathoo.
There’s no doubt this year’s squad has talent and character, but it hardly gives the impression of a dominant team. Nathoo hopes deception and defence will be their best weapon. They’re like Fran Drescher. Pretty to look at but deadly when you get down to it. But so far only the brash Feltus will proclaim it.
“We’re going to kick ass this year,” she says confidentaly. Her teammate Sounantha whispers the same sentiments.