SHS Alumnus leads national men’s volleyball team at world championship

·3 min read

Strathmore High School Alumnus Ben Josephson, named head coach of Volleyball Canada’s senior men’s indoor team in November 2021, lead his team at the world championships this year.

Josephson stepped into his position officially on April 1. The world championship, which took place in Slovenia and Poland this year, is the second-to-largest tournament in the world, following only behind the Olympic games.

“Worlds was a roller coaster. It was an up and down experience — we saw some really great performances from our team and we saw some disappointing losses,” said Josephson. “I think when you’re at a tournament as big of a stage as the world championships, you’re liable to see all kinds … every four years we get to play this tournament … so all the teams are really prepared and really good, and it was eye-opening for us to see the level we were going to have to play at to win all the games.”

Josephson said going to worlds was a unique experience to cherish, especially in his first year of coaching his team, despite Canada’s early elimination from the tournament.

“It’s a pretty special moment when you realize this is the absolute peak of the mountain. There’s nothing better than this tournament when it comes to volleyball quality,” said Josephson. “It was very surreal for me, and super humbling to get to coach Canada at that, and I just wish we would perform better but it sure was eye opening and I can’t wait to get back to work to prepare for the next opportunity.”

Josephson described going to Slovenia as being a very far cry from playing volleyball at Strathmore High School.

His experience in Strathmore was actually his introduction to playing the sport, which he tried out for initially as a way to meet people at the school.

“I was actually more interested in basketball at the time, but … a bunch of my teammates were really involved in club volleyball and the high school team was really strong,” said Josephson who continued his volleyball journey this past spring by stepping into the daunting task of replacing his predecessor, Glenn Hoag, who coached Canada’s team for 15 years, as well as working with a large turnover of players following the Olympics in Tokyo.

Josephson said it will take a few years to kickstart the program and become successful, but hopes to take his current momentum and lessons learned from the world championships and snowball it into future success.

“I think we’re a really creative, athletic, offensive team. I think we play really fast and fun and creative. And I think that’s a style that we’ve been working hard at all summer,” he said. “I think Canadian athletes are really physical by nature. We’ve got big, strong guys who hit the ball high, hard and jump really high. We’re trying to play a very fast, skilled, athletic kind of style … which hasn’t been done a lot in Canada. This kind of new hybrid offense is something that we put a lot of time into, and we’re excited about.”

Josephson added that there are still many gaps to be filled in the team’s performance before they are ready to take on the higher ranked teams, as well as attempt to bring home an Olympic medal, but it is something they are working on.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times