New head coach of the College of the Rockies women’s volleyball team.

New head coach of the College of the Rockies women’s volleyball team.

Jessica Dempsey

Bryan Fraser is ready to take the reigns as the new head coach of the College of the Rockies women’s volleyball team.

Fraser, who hails from Saskatoon, has made his way to the East Kootenay and is excited for the 2019/20 season ahead.

“I think we can expect a lot of really close games. I think we will be quite exciting,” he said. “We have quite a few athletes who are quite physical and can compete with the best in the league. I think we have a couple of players that can be the best in the league. It’s going to be really exciting.”

Fraser has been playing club volleyball since he was in Grade 9, and has had quite a professional career for himself. He played for five years as part of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies squad and spent a year at the Volleyball Canada Full-time Training Centre. He played two summers with the Canadian National B team before he took his skills to play in Europe professionally.

‘I have a lot of playing experience, which also means I’ve had a lot of different coaches in my day,” explained Fraser, noting he’s had about 10 different head coaches.

“I feel like over the years I’ve taken good things that I have learned, I’ve taken things that other coaches have done, that I would never do. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what it takes to help an athlete reach their highest potential.”

He adds, he will be bringing a fresh look to the program, and steer it into a modern version.

“It does change, and I’m pretty up to date with volleyball in general around the world and new technologies that are being used,” said Fraser.

Along with his playing career, Fraser has previous coaching experience. He coached at developmental summer camps and a Division 3 women’s team in Holland. As well, he was an assistant coach with Team Saskatchewan and head coach for the Canadian Men’s Under-17 team.

The way he coaches, Fraser says he looks at volleyball through the simplicity of it.

“Volleyball is a simple game if you break it down. The best athletes make the game look easy, so for me, it’s simplifying things and giving information that is useful instead of giving too much information where athletes can get overwhelmed,” he said, adding that he wants to inspire the athletes to also be creative.

“[Creativity] is also important in modern volleyball. You can’t do the same things over and over, because everybody has the technology and they ill pick up on tendencies quickly,” he said.

Taking on the head coaching job at College of the Rockies was perfect timing as his professional career was coming to an end.

“I was excited to come here,” said Fraser, noting Cisco Farrero, the head coach of the men’s team helped to recruit him here.

“I knew, in general, the area of Cranbrook is very welcoming and friendly, and it had a small-town feel to it, yet it has amenities. But, as far as this school, I like that they have university programs, so as far as recruiting, it makes it a little bit easier to recruit people to come here … as a college, it’s known that you don’t have athletes staying for five years, like a U Sport, here it’s a little bit easier to embrace that and send athletes possibly to U Sport.”

Fraser said he loves the uniqueness of the sport.

“Everybody has their unique techniques, and lot’s of different techniques can work,” he explained. “I like the fact that you have puzzle pieces, and it’s putting them together. Sometimes the pieces don’t fit initially, but they end up fitting based on how players techniques and vision is … just the variety of athletes you can have on one team, it’s quite incredible.”

This year, Fraser says fans of the Avalanche team will see it as a growing year for not only the athletes but himself.

“We will both be growing together,” he said. “I haven’t been coaching for very long, so I’m sure I’ll be asking my athletes lots of questions, I think I have lots of information to provide, so everybody is going to be growing.”

The women’s team will kick off their season on Oct. 18 at home as they host Douglas College.