Tuesday, July 05, 2005

'Volleyball is my passion. It's my life'

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.07.05
SECTION: Special Section
BYLINE: Martin Cleary
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Ashley Fraser, The Ottawa Citizen / Alain Cyr-Russo,18, is recognized as Mr. Volleyball at De La Salle Public High School, where he has done everything in the sport except manufacture the balls.; Photo: (Julie McVicar); Photo: (TJ Cuff); Photo: (Alyssa Feir); Photo: (Andrew Mutter); Photo: (Steph McLean); Photo: (Mark Stuckless); Photo: (Jolyane Marcotte); Photo: (Jeffrey Sheppard); Photo: (Emily Thuswaldner); Photo: (Kevin Leon Tang); Photo: (Nejat Aden); Photo: (Phil Larocque); Photo: (Tebogo Gillespie); Photo: (Ted Easterman); Photo: (Stephen Blasutti); Photo: (Carrie Lugg); Photo: (Costa Solanakis); Photo: (Jenny Allen); Photo: (David Lambert); Photo: (Sophie Dooley)
NOTE: Athletes of the Year


'Volleyball is my passion. It's my life': Alain Cyr-Russo, De La Salle


The centre of Alain Cyr-Russo's universe is a medium-sized leather ball with a free suspended bladder, and the Grade 12 student-athlete from De La Salle Public High School treats it with varying degrees of respect.

As the first-year setter for the De La Salle boys' senior volleyball team, he popped it into the air with a precise gentleness to his attacking front-line players.

As a power hitter on the school's highly successful co-ed volleyball team, he would smack the ball into open spaces on the opposition court.

Then there were days he would gently cradle the ball before handing it to members of the girls' junior volleyball team, a squad he guided as a first-year head coach.

On occasion, he would own the ball and referee matches. Sometimes the matches featured junior high school students, sometimes he officiated high school tournaments, and in emergencies he needed to call the shots in games involving his own girls' junior team.

Cyr-Russo, 18, is recognized as Mr. Volleyball at De La Salle, where he has done everything in the sport except manufacture the balls.

For his dedication and success in volleyball, as well as for being an accomplished pitcher, catcher and captain of the baseball team, Cyr-Russo was selected De La Salle's senior male athlete of the year.

If you're looking for Cyr-Russo at De La Salle, which is a 30-second walk from his home, you'll find him either in a classroom or in the gymnasium. Five days a weeks throughout the school year, he's at the school from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. playing, coaching or refereeing his favourite sport.

"Volleyball is my passion. It's my life," say Cyr-Russo, who didn't start the sport until Grade 10, but became captain of the boys' senior AA and co-ed teams this past season. "Some may call it a girl sport because there's no contact, but it's a mind game. You must know how to use your head. I love mind games and using my head."

After stints at centre and power, he used his new skills as the setter to lead the Cavaliers to the school's first boys' senior National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association tier 1 AA volleyball title and a berth in the Ontario high school championship. The Cavaliers, feeling uncomfortable in their new environment, were 0-4 in their preliminary pool at provincials.

After his teams winning all four co-ed tournaments last year, Cyr-Russo helped De La Salle win two titles and earn three second-place finishes in competitions at Sudbury, Toronto and Ottawa.

He showed his commitment to team excellence by pulling himself from the final of the Sudbury tournament because he wasn't playing well.

Still, he says coaching the girls' junior team, which had a 5-5 record, was his hardest task.

"It's quite a big change," he admits. "Some girls look at you as a friend or big brother. It's hard to coach because you don't want to hurt their feelings, but I learned a lot."


Blogger Unknown said...

IS this picture still available? My computer will not let me load it. If possile, can you email it to me ted.easterman@gmail.com. This was from my high school days.

8:10 AM  

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