They're from a tiny school, have a young team and possess the hearts of Tigers

Kenn Oliver
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Published on March 24, 2010

Shania Caravan, 14, from Gracia Gymnastics, Deer Lake (Western). Coach Kerri Anstey looks on.

Published on March 24, 2010

Emily Bland of the Grand Falls-Windsor host team goes up for the kill against Mount Pearl/South during girls volleyball action at Exploits Valley High Sunday, March 21, 2010. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

Bethany Parsons (11) of the Grand Falls-Windsor host team blocks a spike from Mount Pearl South's Michelle Compton during girls volleyball action at Exploits Valley High Sunday, March 21, 2010. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

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Mount Pearl/South's Michelle Compton spikes against the guard of the host team's Donna Jewer (1) and Bethany Parsons (11). - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

Brad Manuel (7) of the Grand Falls-Windsor boys hocket team looks back to see St. John's/North goaltender Michael Collins sprawl to keep his backhand shot from crossing the line. St. John's would win the game at Windsor Stadium, 6-2. - Photo by Kenn Ol

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Figure skater Ashley Bishop, Mount Pearl South.

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Figure skater Shannon Lilly, Labrador City.

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Emma Holmes competes for St. John's/North in the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games cross-country ski event at the Exploits Valley ski trails on Monday. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

Aaron Andrews of Corner Brook and the Western team performs on the parallel bars Monday during the boys' gymnastic competition at the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

Aaron Andrews of Corner Brook and the Western team performs on the parallel bars Monday during the boys' gymnastic competition at the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

Aaron Andrews of Corner Brook and the Western team performs on the parallel bars Monday during the boys' gymnastic competition at the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

Corner Brook's Brian Brewer presents Pamela Budden with her medal after she clocked a time of five minutes and 16 seconds in her 500-metre Para-Nordic cross-country ski event at the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Grand Falls-Windsor. -

Published on March 24, 2010

Fans of Exploits Valley High School, the Host team in the male volleyball competition at the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games, cheer on the home side during the gold-medal match against Western Tuesday in Grand Falls-Windsor. Western won the fina

Published on March 24, 2010

Members of the Eastern female bowling team at the Provincial Winter Games include (front, from left) Melanie Avery and Emma Manning; (back, from left) Sarah Short, Cassie Bishop and coach Rosetta Avery. - Photo by Dave Newell/Transcontinental Media/The

Published on March 24, 2010

Nick Ash (2) and Jacob Lane (14) of the Gander Collegiate Concordes go up to block a smash by Patrick Churchill of the South West Arm Academy Tigers during the bronze-medal match in the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games boys' volleyball competiti

Published on March 24, 2010

Central's James Collins (9) looks to pound the ball through a couple of Eastern blockers during the boys' volleyball bronze-medal final at the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Grand Falls-Windsor. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

The 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Western Male Volleyball Gold Medal Team. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

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The 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Eastern Male Volleyball Bronze Medal Team. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Published on March 24, 2010

Labrador goaltender Kyla Penney gets ready to pounce on a loose puck as teammates Charlene Duffett and Shannon Kalanko keep Western's Kristen Cooze and Franchesca Gibbons at bay during female hockey action at the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter G

Published on March 24, 2010

Central region basketball coaches Ed Traverse (left) and Brian Kennedy get their Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games kits from volunteers Betty Boone and Gloria White (right) during Games turnaround day Wednesday in Grand Falls-Windsor. - Photo by K

Published on March 24, 2010

Mount Pearl/South hockey player Carlee Jesso lugs her sticks, equipment and suitcase as she enters the girls' athletes village at Exploits Valley School in Grand Falls-Windsor, turnaround day at the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games. - Photo by Ke

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Central's Blanchard and Avalon's Cody MacTavish hook up in boys' wrestling action at the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Grand Falls-Windsor on Thursday. Thursday marked the first full day of action in the second half of the Games. - Photo by

Published on March 24, 2010

Members of the Labrador wrestling team at the Provincial Winter Games include (front row, left to right): Stephen Penashue, J.B. Andrew, Rodney Osmond and Matthew Nuna; back row (left to right): coach Brian Tucker, Alex Penashue, Clinton Rich, Nicholas

Published on March 24, 2010

Samantha Morey (centre) and Victoria Roberts of Central take on Mount Pearl/South, whose team includes Kiley Hynes (left) in girls' badminton action at the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Thursday in Grand Falls-Windsor. - Photo by Kenn Oliver/T

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2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games

Grand Falls-Windsor -

The numbers - all of them - are perpetually stacked against the South West Arm Academy Tigers, who represented the Eastern region in male volleyball at the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Thirteen of the Academy's 15 male high school students (the Little Heart's Ease institution has just over 100 students from kindergarten to Grade 12) play for the school's senior team, living the legacy of Tigers' volleyball.
However, coach Roman Peddle, an alumnus of the school and former Tigers volleyballer, didn't come to Grand Falls-Windsor with his full senior roster. Games volleyball is a Grade 10 tourney and Peddle has only two players - Zachary Peddle and captain Cole Avery-Marsh - from that level.
So for the Games, Grade 9's Christopher Whelan, Taylor Smith, Patrick Churchill, and Grade 6 Tigers' Brandon Peddle, Brandon Vardy, Garrett Smith, Jager Cooper, Philip Snook, Zachary Drodge make up the rest of the side.
"On average, at most tournaments, we're probably the youngest (team)," said Peddle, who is in his fourth year as the Tigers' coach.
And they are almost always the shortest.
"The one thing we've struggled with a little bit is our blocking due to the fact some of us can only get our hand over the net," he joked.
But for what they lack in age and vertical limitations, the Tigers make up for it with solid defence, hustle and heart.
"Defence is what we work on and that's what wins us championships. In practice, we'll be hitting the ball with no blocks and just trying our best to dig," noted Peddle.
At a 4A tournament this year, the South West Arm senior squad found itself in a championship game against rival Clarenville High, a team which had bested the Tigers in 10 straight encounters over the previous three years.
Down 14-9 in the third and deciding set, the Tigers rallied for a 16-14 win and the tournament title.
Such comebacks appear to be commonplace for South West Arm.
On Tuesday, trailing 14-9 in the third set of the Winter Games bronze-medal game against the Central region's Gander Collegiate Concordes, the Tigers rebounded again, eventually winning 28-26 in an extended match.
"Now that's heart," a jubilant Peddle said as his charges celebrated their latest triumph.
Tuesday's game was also a measure of both the dedication and experience of players from a school where volleyball is king.
"Sometimes having a small school really helps because they know each other, they're really close. These are their buddies, that's who they're with 10 to 15 hours a day," said Peddle, who is working towards a physical education degree at Memorial University, meaning he only makes practice twice a week. Otherwise, the players run their own workouts, with the assistance of teacher/sponsor and assistant coach Jamie Jewers, a volleyball newbie.
"We wouldn't be able to do any of this without her," Peddle emphasized.

Early experience
Once they reach junior high and because the elementary ranks only produce so many athletes, South West Arm volleyballers are quickly seasoned on the court.
"When you hit Grade 6, you're playing against boys in Grade 9," said Peddle. "When you hit Grade 8, you're playing against people in Grade 12.
"By the time these Grade 6's get two years on them, they're playing in Grade 10 tournaments and it seems like they're at a level where some of the Grade 10s could be."
Avery-Marsh sees it.
"Starting off young, you're really intimidated, but the more you play with your team, the more comfortable you're going to feel. And when you play with players at your own age and skill level, you find the guys who are older are not there with you," Avery-Marsh, a vocal team leader, asserted.
The Tigers aren't winning everything in sight. They settled for a semifinal appearance at Volleyfest and a bronze medal at the provincial under-18A championship. But as they say, winning isn't everything.
"Learning how to lose is a very important thing as a player," Avery-Marsh explains.
"It prepares you at an older age. The more you learn how to lose, the better winner you are."

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Tigers, South West Arm Academy Tigers

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Grand Falls-Windsor, Grand Falls Eastern

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Recent comments

  • Jerry Avery
    November 11, 2010 - 18:50

    this is awesome. My family is from Little Hearts Ease and volleyball is definetly my favorite sport. They have Hearts of Tigers. Way to go.

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    That is an awesome story, would make a great movie. Nice to see small towns compete and win against the larger centers.

    Heart goes a long ways, and after reading this story, it seems this group of boys have lots.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    That is an awesome story, would make a great movie. Nice to see small towns compete and win against the larger centers.

    Heart goes a long ways, and after reading this story, it seems this group of boys have lots.