Strathmore High School will be seeing some representation on one of the biggest stages in the international sports world: alumni Ben Josephson is coaching the Canada Men's National Volleyball Team in the World Championships hosted in Slovenia and Poland! Slovenia is hosting the qualifying round robin pools before the tournament heads to Poland for the top 16.

Josephson explained this is the second biggest volleyball tournament in the world, only behind the Olympics. Every two years the tournaments alternate, with the exception of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics that got pushed back because of COVID. Josephson said it's been an unbelievable experience so far.

"It's a bit surreal, we're walking around the lobby and all the best players on the whole planet are here. All these incredible athletes and coaches and all these great volleyball teams, including our own, are about to compete in the second biggest tournament in the quads. If you follow volleyball, this is the who's who of the game, it's pretty fun."

"We were sitting besides the Olympic champions at dinner here. France was just sitting at the table next to us, and they won the Olympics last summer so those guys are riding high."

This is Josephson's first year as the head coach, as former coach Glenn Hoag retired after 15 years. Josephson spent 15 years coaching the Trinity Western University volleyball team in Langley, B.C before this, and during that time he coached several other national teams like the National B team, Junior team, Youth team, and Women's National Team in the Tokyo Olympic quad qualifiers.

All that experience and hard work paid off in a big way for Josephson, who is now representing Canada on the international stage.

"It's a dream come true. If you coach volleyball or play volleyball, the dream is to represent your country. The opportunity to coach this team at this time is literally my dream come true, and I'm having the time of my life."

Ben Josephson huddle

Josephson got his start in volleyball at Strathmore High School, where he joined the Spartans before heading off to Trinity Western. To this day, he still carries the experiences he had in Strathmore with him

"I just think back so fondly of my time in Strathmore and just the great people I got to grow up and be with in high school and the different teachers, mentors along the way. I owe a lot to the town, a lot to the school, and a lot to the people who started me in volleyball, but also that high school had such an amazing group of teachers at that school."

One of the amazing teachers was the high school volleyball coach at the time, Randy Monks.

"Coach Randy Monks is one of the founding mentors for me as a coach and volleyball person and leader, so I owe a lot to Randy and a lot to Strathmore High School for giving me my start in this game, and now I get to lead our country."

Josephson explained the team is full of players who play year round in professional European leagues, so the work that goes into making it to this level is a non-stop grind. Canada is currently ranked 14th in the world, and the hope is to make it to the top 16. To do that they will have to beat two out of the following three: Italy (rank 6), China (rank 18) and Turkey (rank 17).

"If we were to beat those two teams we would advance to the knockout phase, which has always been the goal, to get into the round of 16. And then you're just a couple wins away from being in a medal match. First, we've got to take care of our pool and then we'll see what happens once we get to Poland. You want to perform as well as your ranking. so we're ranked 14th, and we want to try and get ahead of that."

They're against the world's best, so nothing will come easy against the highest level of competition.

"The margins for error are very small and very thin, and the competition level is super high. So we know it's a great challenge but our goal would be to get at least to the round of 16 and our dream would be to get into the quarter final, and that would be pretty special."

While Josephson is setting realistic goals, he's never ruling out pulling off a huge upset and winning it all.

"Somebody has to, might as well be us!"

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