Overseas, however, Schmitt is popular star and is considered one of the best pro volleyball players in the world. At the Pan Am Games he’s helped power Canada to a perfect 3-0 record and a berth in Friday’s semifinals.
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- Sunaya Sapurji | Yahoo Sports – Wed, 22 Jul, 2015 4:18 PM EDTOn a volleyball court full of giants, Gavin Schmitt still stands out. Schmitt, a behemoth at 6-foot-10, 234 pounds, is one Canada's biggest names despite playing in relative obscurity at home.When he played for Daejeon Samsung Bluefangs in South Korea, it wasn’t uncommon to have an adoring home crowd of 7,000 fans chanting his name. He loved his time in the country so much, he got a tattoo with the words: commitment, perseverance, and passion – his coach’s mantra - tattooed on his torso in Korean.Schmitt was so popular there he’d be recognized and stopped on the street. There was even a marriage proposal sent his way.The recognition was hard to adapt to for the modest, but affable 29-year-old native of Saskatoon.“Being in a place where people recognize me is moreRead More »from Schmitt stands tall as leader of Canada's men's volleyball team
- Sunaya Sapurji | Yahoo Sports – Mon, 20 Jul, 2015 4:15 PM EDT
When Dan Devlin stepped on the court for Canada’s inaugural match against Brazil, it marked the third time he had worn the Maple Leaf in the sport of handball at the Pan Am Games.
It also marked the third time he had to pay his own way to get there.
Such is life for athletes in niche sports trying to make headway in Canada, where the biggest challenge is often not on the field of play, but in trying to find funding.
Devlin, like many of his handball teammates male and female, has been forced to crowdfund in order to represent Canada internationally.
“A lot of us crowdfunded to be here which was fantastic because it eased a lot of the stress we had to do for work,” said the 31-year-old medical school student.“Typically when we’re at home we’re working, trying to live our lives, but we’re also working trying to have money available so we can continue to play handball. That’s one of the hardest things.”
Having money for handball means paying for things like plane tickets and ancillaryRead More »from Passion, crowdfunding helps get Canadian handballers to Pan Am Games
- Sunaya Sapurji | Yahoo Sports – Thu, 9 Jul, 2015 11:43 AM EDT
It was back in 1956 that Don Cameron made his first life-changing decision. He was just out of high school in his native Summerside, PEI, and he had to make the choice to either go to university or take a job in radio.
“It was my life-long ambition to get into broadcasting and do play-by-play for hockey,” said the 79-year-old. “I used to do it as a kid playing road hockey, I say, ‘I’m not going to play anymore, I’m going to broadcast the game.’ Then I’d sit up on a fence and broadcast the game.”
It’s no surprise: He took the radio job.
He parlayed that gig calling games for the Summerside Aces – in the local senior league – into a job in St. Catharines, Ont., doing play-by-play for the Jr. A Teepees. That, too, was a big decision considering Cameron had spent his whole life on the Island.
“Boy, were my eyes ever opened when that plane landed in Toronto,” said Cameron. “I took my first drive on a four-lane highway.”
From there he moved to Kitchener, broadcasting games for the DutchmenRead More »from Legendary Don Cameron calls it a career as the voice of Kitchener Rangers
- Sunaya Sapurji | Yahoo Sports – Fri, 3 Jul, 2015 6:12 PM EDT
Rocky Hockey is coming to Windsor and the Spitfires better be ready. On Friday, the OHL team announced they had hired former Edmonton Oilers assistant coach Rocky Thompson as head coach, replacing Bob Boughner.
“We want to play fast and we want to play aggressive,” said Thompson of his new team. “We want our system to definitely be more aggressive than the Windsor Spitfires have played in the past.
“I’m a family oriented individual it means everything to me and I know the culture has been great there, but I’m going to build on that foundation and there’s going to be trust in our locker room. Individuals are going to have success, but they’re going to want to be a part of the group. That’s something I can bring – bringing people together, teaching them the game and getting the most out of them.”
This philosophy should come as no surprise to anyone who saw Thompson play during his pro career with more than a decade in the AHL and stints – totaling 25 games - in the NHL with Florida andRead More »from Rocky's ready to rumble as head coach of Windsor Spitfires
- Sunaya Sapurji | Buzzing The Net – Tue, 30 Jun, 2015 5:17 PM EDT
There were lots of gambles taking place on Tuesday as the Canadian Hockey League held their annual import draft. Many big names – including players taken last weekend at the NHL entry draft – were in the mix as 120 players had their CHL rights picked up.
Going first overall to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan was Russian forward Vladimir Kuznetsov. The 17-year-old won a gold medal with Russia at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge last year and played the regular season with his hometown Yekaterinburg in the MHL, Russia’s junior league. He finished with 12 points in 43 games. He won't be eligible for the NHL draft until 2016.
Russia lead the charge at the draft with 19 players selected followed by the Czech Republic (12) and Finland and Sweden tied at nine players a piece.
One of the biggest names taken on Tuesday was Swedish defenceman Oliver Kylington, a second-round pick of the Calgary Flames. The 18-year-old was one of the biggest surprises last weekend when he fell late in the secondRead More »from General managers hoping their gambles pay at CHL import draft
- Sunaya Sapurji | Yahoo Sports – Thu, 25 Jun, 2015 11:47 AM EDT
There was never a dull moment in the Bittner household. It was in the small town of Crookston, with a population just under 8,000, in northwest Minnesota, that Jon and Jo Bittner raised their three rambunctious boys. There was Mark, the oldest; Ryan; and the baby, Paul – all two years apart.
He might have been the youngest, but Paul was the most independent and headstrong of the three boys. When he tried skating as a two-year-old, he refused any help from his brothers or his parents and would often be found on their backyard rink, lying flat on the ice.
“He wanted nothing to do with any of us,” said Mark, now 22. “He’d say, ‘No! I’ll do it myself,’ so he’d rub his skates on the ice and just lay there in the middle of the ice. When we would play we’d only have one goalie on our outdoor rink so we’d have skate around him and avoid him.
“One day he was up and skating with us and from then on we were all skating together.”
That big backyard rink would host shinny games for all theRead More »from Paul Bittner forges his own path from hockey-mad Minnesota to the NHL Draft
- Sunaya Sapurji | Yahoo Sports – Wed, 24 Jun, 2015 11:55 AM EDT
The 2015 NHL entry draft has been fastidiously churning in the hype machine for more than a year now. That’s to be expected with the likes of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel eligible to walk down the draft floor in Sunrise, Fla., on Friday evening.
Both players have been labeled as potential generational talents and dissected to their fullest – McDavid since he was a 14-year-old and Eichel following in the spotlight a few years later. But there are other familiar names, too. There’s Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin and forwards Dylan Strome of the Erie Otters, Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs and Mitchell Marner of the London Knights.
The top-end talent has given the impression that this year’s draft could be as good – if not better – than the draft class of 2003, in which every single player drafted in the first round (led by first overall pick Marc-Andre Fleury) played, at the very least, a handful of games in the NHL.
So, what do the experts think?
Yahoo Sports polledRead More »from NHL Scouts Poll: The class of 2015 is average beyond the top 10
- Sunaya Sapurji | Buzzing The Net – Tue, 16 Jun, 2015 4:43 PM EDT
The junior hockey job market continues to heat up as teams across the CHL fill the vacancies that opened up once the regular season ended. In the interim, many of those jobs for head coaches and general manager have been filled. However, with the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL scooping up many of the CHL's best and brightest, there are still a few openings to be filled.
The latest vacancy opened up on Tuesday afternoon when the Leafs hired Oshawa Generals head coach D.J. Smith to join Mike Babcock's coaching staff as an assistant. Smith led the Generals to a 51-11-2-4 record which culminated in an OHL title and a Memorial Cup victory last month.
“I would like to thank (owner) Rocco Tullio and the entire Oshawa Generals organization as well as our great fans for supporting myself and my family over the past three seasons,” said Smith in a press release. “I am excited to begin a new chapter with the Maple Leafs and work alongside Mike Babcock, Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer.”
Smith, who was theRead More »from Leafs hiring Oshawa's D.J. Smith opens up another CHL job vacancy
- Sunaya Sapurji | Yahoo Sports – Tue, 9 Jun, 2015 1:50 PM EDT
When it comes to the 2015 NHL entry draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs are saying all the right things concerning their fourth-overall pick. They’re preaching patience with their prospects.
It’s a refreshing change from an organization that hasn’t much success developing high-end talent.
“We’re going to look to be patient,” said Mark Hunter, the Leafs director of player personnel and interim co-GM. “We want to protect our asset that’s fourth overall. We want to develop them and make sure they’re getting better without stumbling around where it’s unnecessary.”
At the recent NHL draft combine, Toronto’s brain trust was on hand to scope out the prospects for themselves and interview their potential picks. Among the players in the mix for the fourth pick include Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin, Erie Otters centre Dylan Strome and London Knights winger Mitchell Marner.
The Leafs’ decision on who to select will, of course, be impacted greatly by the Arizona Coyotes, who pick ahead of themRead More »from Maple Leafs will preach patience with their NHL draft picks
- Sunaya Sapurji | Buzzing The Net – Sat, 6 Jun, 2015 3:39 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. — After his combine testing was over on Saturday morning, Connor McDavid once again met with the media. He couldn’t stop yawning. Whether that was from the boredom of being asked the same questions repeatedly or from running the grueling gauntlet of the fitness testing, one couldn’t say.
Coming into the event, the 18-year-old said his main goal was to avoid embarrassment on the pull-up bar, which had caused problems for Flames pick Sam Bennett last year when he couldn't do a single one. McDavid passed that portion with flying colours, managing to finish with six pull-ups, a task not everyone could best. The hardest test for the prospects on Saturday was the Wingate bike test which measures peak anaerobic power and capacity and McDavid and Eichel were no exceptions.
“That one’s absolutely crazy,” said McDavid, who finished with a peak power output of 17.49. “It’s tough but it’s fun and it was good to get it over with.”
When asked what his toughest challenge was, Eichel'sRead More »from Top prospects pushed to the limit during 'tough' combine testing