Kevin Lam almost didn’t play volleyball.
Discouraged after an awkward introduction by his cousin in grade 9, the Runnymede Raven and member of the 2009-10 OFSAA qualifying senior boys squad temporarily left the rookery.
“I didn’t know how to play the game properly so I would be scrambling around the court,” he said. “I felt kind of embarrassed at first, so I didn’t think it was right for me to play volleyball.”
But at the coaxing of his cousin, Lam would return in grade 10, honing his abilities.
“I kept going to practices and if I didn’t understand something I would ask my coach,” he said.
Instructor John Kalantzakos is pleased with Lam’s stuffing of the nevermore tone.
“He started out as a young, inexperienced player and put a lot of time in and has developed,” he said. “He’s gone through his growing pains, but he’s developed into a mature athlete.”
Volleyball has become the driving force in Lam’s academic career as well.
“It helps me keep my focus in school as well because if I want to play volleyball I have to finish my schoolwork, or if I want to make the team again I have to keep my marks up,” he said.
Naturally graduation takes key players away every season, as was the case after 2009-10 when captain Liam Hodge graduated.
“There’s always a little bit of rebuilding every year,” Kalantzakos admitted. “Even this year with losing Liam and a couple of other guys and thinking we would have a struggle, we went undefeated this year.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever done that in the past.”
Lam picked up the mantle though, leading his team to that undefeated record.
Still, it took a little cajoling of Lam’s teammates.
“A lot of them haven’t had as much experience playing senior volleyball, so I felt I had to push them and tell them, ‘You can’t be scared. You have to play with confidence.’”
Over his four years of volleyball, Lam picked last year’s qualifying for OFSAA against Bloor CI as the highlight.
“It was probably the hardest game I had to play throughout all volleyball,” he said. “It was the most tiring and the most fun I would say.”
Still, A-level OFSAA was daunting, even for the composed Lam.
“It was kind of scary at first because I think that was the first year our school had made it to OFSAA before,” he said. “The competition was really intense at first but then we started playing more and more during OFSAA and it got a lot more comfortable for us.”
For Lam, it’s straight to university after this year. York, Ryerson and University of Western Ontario are on the docket. The major: life sciences.
But that won’t cut Lam’s volleyball playing short. He will be back in the spring as co-ed volleyball starts up. That’s when he will shed the school uniform for his volleyball gear.
“Even on dress-down days, I’d still be happy to get into my uniform because I like volleyball,” he said.
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