Saturday, 10 January 2015

Ex-Rattlers a couple of gems for Huskies

Zak Rempel charges out during Huskies starting lineup intros.
            Zak Rempel and Emmalyn Copping are living a dream with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, and their story still shows that good things still come to good people.
            Both grew up playing volleyball having successes at various levels with hopes of playing with a team in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Before they ended up playing for the Huskies, both ended up playing in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference for the Medicine Hat College Rattlers to develop their respective games.
            Rempel left his hometown of Saskatoon to end up in the Gas City, while Copping left her home in Calgary to play for the Rattlers.
            The Rattlers have had a number of outstanding individuals pass through their programs. In recent years, Rempel and Copping likely headed the list of two of the most outstanding individuals to come out of that program.
Emma Copping serves for the Huskies.
            I remember having various coffee talks with Rattlers men’s volleyball head coach Steve Russell and Rempel and Copping were frequent topics of discussion.
            Russell said those two are going to be your future type community leaders and it has to make you feel upbeat about the future. Russell coached Rempel for two seasons, and Copping often ended up babysitting and playing with the bench boss’s two young sons, when the Rattlers men’s team was in action.
            Both left the Rattlers for the Huskies following the 2012-13 season and the positive qualities they displayed at Medicine Hat College have continued at the University of Saskatchewan.
            In two seasons with the Rattlers, Rempel was a driven recent high school graduate, who quickly assumed the role of starting setter of the Rattlers men’s volleyball team. In his second year, he chose to take on more of a leadership role with the team.
            He carried himself well on and off the court in a very mature manner for his young age. In an early interview during his second season when I was writing with the Medicine Hat News, Rempel said to give him a shout if I needed any help with stories on the Rattlers men’s volleyball team. He was also ready to be front and centre for any interviews after games be it good or bad.
            When it came time to join the Huskies, Rempel was really committed to the gym. He was one of the persons I always saw when I worked out at the gym at the University of Saskatchewan, when I came to Saskatoon for visits before moving to the Bridge City. Outside of times when he battled injury, he has been the starting setter for the Huskies.
            On Friday night, Rempel, who is in his fourth year of post-secondary eligibility, quarterbacked the Huskies to an impressive 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-17 and 25-21) upset win over the Brandon University Bobcats at the Physical Activity Complex. The Huskies improved to 9-6 at the time with the win, while the Bobcats fell to 11-4.
Zak Rempel sets the ball for the Huskies.
            Rempel mixed up the Huskies offensive attack well, but he will also be the first to admit his teammates made his job that much easier. The Huskies passed the ball well and also blocked well to create a lot of favourable situations.
            During a couple of spots were the other Huskies players and head coach Brian Gavlas got upset over an official’s call, Rempel had his hands motioned giving a calming settle down motion still showing the maturity seen in the Hat days. Basically, he was telling his teammates that was volleyball. There will be calls that don’t go your way, so let’s settle down and move on to the next point.
            Even after the win, the 21-year-old was happy, but he quickly added he and his team have to play even better on Saturday, because the Bobcats will come with higher intensity.
             Copping was with the Rattlers for just the 2012-13 season. As a rookie just out of high school, she found a starting spot as an outside hitter on a Rattlers women’s volleyball team, which still had a strong talent base from going to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championship tournament final four in the 2011-12 campaign.
            She improved a lot that season, and quickly developed a lot of supporters on the Medicine Hat College campus due to her outgoing and very sweet personality. Russell’s two young sons, who I think were under the age of five at the time, also almost couldn’t wait for the Rattlers women’s game to end, so they could constantly be at Copping’s side for the men’s game.
Emma Copping gets set to receive a serve for the Huskies.
            When the Huskies issued a press release for their recruits for their women’s volleyball team for the 2012-13 campaign, Copping was listed near the bottom in a paragraph in a round-up of other players joining the program. She didn’t carry the label of the star recruit, but I was pretty confident the Huskies coaches were going to be very surprised by her in a good way in a short amount of time.
            She quickly became a fixture on the end of game articles the team would post, because she would constantly be listed amongst the leaders in kills. In Friday’s 3-1 to the Brandon Bobcats at the PAC, Copping, who turned age 21 on Saturday, played mainly in the back row. The Bobcats didn’t hit many balls in her direction, and she made passes when she had to and served hard.
            With the Rattlers, she was developing a good all-around game. With the Huskies, she can be used in any role the team throws at her, because all her skills are good and are still getting better.
            Even after the loss, Copping, who is in her third year of post-secondary eligibility, is still great to visit with and was still an upbeat bundle of positive energy.
            It is always very cool to see sound individuals like Rempel and Copping grow. Wherever life takes them after university, they will likely have a great impact on the communities they settle in.

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