Winnipeg, April 16, 2004 - With just over a month to go before their biggest tournament in four years, the Canadian National Men's Volleyball Team is slowly beginning to regroup, preparing for their anticipated last chance Olympic Qualifier in Japan, May 22 - 30.
This weekend senior team veterans, along with a mix of A-2 and developmental players, will begin to arrive in Winnipeg, hitting the courts with the coaching staff starting Monday. "We start our preparations with a great deal of excitement, knowing that the task ahead of us is something that we all want very badly. Ideally we would have liked to have everyone here sooner and prepare without rushing," stated National Team Head Coach Stelio DeRocco.
"With so many of our senior players missing to start our preparations for Japan (due to their various professional league playoffs), we will be bringing in athletes that we feel can help us prepare and emulate some of the characteristics of players and teams we will be facing in Japan."
Players that will be in Winnipeg by early next week include; Senior team veterans Scott Koskie, Steve Brinkman and Lucas Snider, National A-2 Team players Marc Arseneau, Josh Muise and Peter Turpin, CIS standouts and former National Junior Team players Leo Carroll, Nicholas Cundy, Jeff Weiler, Brock Davidiuk and Dallas Soonias.
Returning veterans expected in late April include Paul Duerden, Ross Ballard, Chris Wolfenden, Brett Youngberg and Pascal Cardinal. Not arriving until early May are Murray Grapentine, Sebastien Ruette, Terry Martin, Doug Bruce, and Fred Winters. Former captain and twelve year veteran Jason Haldane's status is uncertain for the qualifier due to a stress fracture in his foot.
The Japan Olympic Qualifying tournament will consist of eight teams, in what also doubles as the Asia Zone Continental Olympic Qualification tournament. Only the winning team along with the highest placing Asian Team will be awarded two of the four remaining Athens Olympic berths.