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Wow Pow v-ball event will draw 42 teams to Lac La Biche

JAWS junior boys win ‘mini Wow Pow’ warmup event, girls get silver

One of the longest-running volleyball tournaments in the region is back on the Lac La Biche courts for another year.

The annual Wow Pow volleyball tournament will take over local schools and the Bold Center indoor floor-space this coming weekend, bringing in 42 teams from across the Lakeland and across the province.

42 teams.  That's a lot of action ... and a lot of planning, says J.A. Williams High School Athletics Director Andrew Przybylski.

"We're ready. It's going to be busy like always — but we've got a great group of helpers and supporters," he said, adding that the recent 'mini-Wow Pow' tourney helped to set the stage for the larger event.

JAWS finishes gold, silver at mini-Wow Pow

Held last weekend on the JAWS home courts at the Bold Center, the mini-Wow Pow' event drew 11 teams from Lakeland-area schools for a junior varsity competition.

The teams — from Lac La Biche, Plamondon, Cold Lake and Bonnyville — all with Grades 9 and 10 players, battled towards the finals, with the home-squad JAWS boys winning gold, and the JAWS girls taking silver after losing to the Cold Lake High School Royals in the finals.

Przybylksi was pleased with how the day-long tournament went ... and pretty happy with the results too.

"I can't remember both of our boys and girls juniors in the finals at the same tournament, " he said. "It was really great to see."

Also great was the overall compliance with new COVID-19 rules. 

Tournament organizers created special areas for entire teams to sit together, socially distanced from other students and team officials, something Przybylski said was like "athletes villages."  Face masks were mandatory for all players and officials not playing on a court, and spectators were not allowed.

While there were almost no difficulties with the restrictions, Przybylski realizes the 'no-spectator' rule was tough for families and supporters. It was tough for organizers too.

"It was great in the past with people being able to watch the games. I remember finals where the court was surrounded, like 300 people watching. I loved that, and we're all missing that ... but the only way this event happens is with the restrictions, that's AHS rules," he said.

The same rules will be in place this coming weekend for the Wow Pow event. Senior high school and some junior varsity teams from as far away as Drayton Valley and Fort McMurray will be competing with north-eastern and north-central Alberta teams. 

While the Bold Center facility is open to the public, and games can be seen from the main hallways, signage and barricades will again restrict spectators from watching or congregating along the open areas. Other venues hosting games in the community will have similar restrictions in place. 

The tournament, which has been a part of the Lac La Biche high school's annual athletics calendar for more than 40 years, begins with games on Friday morning. Boys and girls senior teams from JAWS as well as the junior varsity teams that made it to the championships at the 'mini Wow Pow' will be competing.

Images by: Rob McKinley and Rahma Dalmar