Photo and story credit: Brad McLeod - Cranbrook Townsman
The 2017-18 College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball season is still over a week away, but the program is already generating excitement for 2018-19.
On Wednesday night, Cranbrook's Caleb Peters — a power hitter for the Mount Baker Secondary Wild senior boys volleyball team — signed a letter of intent to indicate his commitment to the Avs program for next season.
"[It's] pretty exciting [and] a big decision… hopefully, it will lead to some bigger things in life," Peters said after his signing. "I love the schooling [at COTR], how big it is and how good it is to their students.
"I [also] really like the team-bonding between the guys who are at the college right now, it's really encouraging to see."
According to the Avs men's team head coach, Cisco Farrero, getting Peters on board was an easy decision.
"As a new coach, my [top] priority was to determine who the local talent was from the East Kootenay region and it took about 45 seconds to decide that I wanted Caleb on the team," Farrero said. "He's extremely physical for an 18-year-old. He's built more like a college player and he's ready to compete and play right away."
Still in his final year of high school, Peters has already been to a few practices with the Avs over the past few weeks and should be able to make a seamless integration into the team next fall.
"He [already] hits as hard as any kid in Western Canada," Farrero said. "That right arm of his is an absolute canon [and] I'm excited to see what he looks like when he takes a step to the next level."
The current men's Avs squad only has one Cranbrook player in sophomore setter Matt Lavery, but the women's team added three Mount Baker players over the offseason. Farrero wants to make sure growing local talent is a trend for his team.
"If there are athletes that are local that are good enough to play at this level, I want them to come here first," he said. "It keeps a sense of hometown pride [which is] important. This is a regional college and to represent the region of the East Kootenays is really important to me.
"I [plan] to spend some more time looking at some of the players [from Mount Baker]. There is definitely a lot of talent in the area, not just this year, but next year and beyond."
Peters, who has grown up watching the Avs, is hoping to take business and kinesiology courses when he attends COTR, but is most excited by the chance to play volleyball.
"I love the home crowd hype," he said. "It's really great to see people coming out to support and [to] see the guys react to that, it's really cool."
Farrero plans to continue to have Peters occasionally train with the team this season, while keeping his primary focus on his high school team and studies.
The 2017-18 Avs squad, on the other hand, will start their season at home on October 20 against the Camosun Chargers. The team will play back-to-back games, with Friday's game starting at 8 p.m. and Saturday's game taking place at 3 p.m.