Aussie heading to for Avalanche

College of the Rockies Avalanche welcome new Aussie volleyball right-side.

Curtis Stockton is heading for College of the Rockies to join the Avalanche.

The College of the Rockies Avalanche are set to welcome a new force behind the net this season.

Curtis Stockton of Australia has signed on to play the right-side for the team, and he brings with him a wealth of experience.

Steve Kamps, head coach for the Avalanche, said Stockton will be a great addition as a left handed player.

“You don’t see a lot of them,” he said.

Left handed players are rare in the sport of volleyball. Kamps compares it to the advantage in baseball that left-handed pitchers once experienced, although he notes that there are now many out there.

“In volleyball it’s still an advantage,” he said, explaining that lefties can shave seconds off their returns. “You don’t train against that.”

Speaking of advantages, at 6 feet 7 inches, Stockton will be a solid wall for the Avalanche to lean on.

“Curtis brings a definite height advantage as well as great experience from his time in Australia,” Kamps said.

Bringing Stockton to Cranbrook was a process that started a year ago, when Kamps formed a relationship with Luke Campbell all the way in Australia. Campbell is the director of the Greater Melbourne Volleyball Academy that preps players for college and professional volleyball. The academy’s Linford Bennett played for COTR last season.

“We managed to get Linford here last year,” Kamps said. “We’ve been working on Curtis for a while.”

Stockton has played indoor and beach volleyball for the Victoria State Teams at the Australian Junior National Volleyball Championships. He has medaled in that event since 2007, including a win at the U-19 Indoor Championships in 2011 and the U-23 Championships this year.

In 2009 and 2012 he was selected for the National All-Star teams and was picked as the Most Valuable Player in 2009. Stockton’s highlight of his illustrious career so far has been representing Australia at the 8th Annual Asian Youth Boys Volleyball Championships in Thailand and Iran.

Stockton will not only bring his experience, but his unique culture to the team.

“It’s just great to have someone from a different country,” Kamps said.

During his time at the college, Stockton will be studying Business Administration.

It’s an exciting year for Avalanche volleyball. COTR will be hosting the Pac West Championships this season from February 21-23, 2013. Kamps said the road to Pac West won’t be a free ride for the Avalanche – the team will have to be in the top six in the province to qualify for their own tournament.

“We’re definitely gearing up for that,” he said. “The pressure’s on.”

Training and try-outs begin after the Labour Day weekend in September, and the Avalanche schedule heats up right away. Cranbrook will play host to three Canadian Interuniversity Sport teams, the Red Deer Kings, Thompson River WolfPack and the Calgary Dinos. Those games will happen on September 28 and 29 and the official season will be served up in October.

Kamps said the Kings have been a power house in college volleyball over the past 12 years winning eight out of 12 championships.