WESTLOCK — The future for Westlock athlete Noah Rigney appears to be paved with gold.
The 17-year-old volleyball player has won two gold medals this year. His first came with the Edmonton-based Northern Alberta Volleyball Club (NAVC) team at youth nationals in May with the second at the 2022 Canada Cup July 21-24 in Calgary.
“It was a great way to cap off my U17 year with two national championships,” said Rigney. “We played a total of eight games, and we didn’t lose a single game and only lost one set to Team B.C.”
Volleyball Canada hosted the 2022 Canada Cup at the 7 Chiefs Sportsplex in Calgary and brought together some of the top athletes from across Canada to compete the national championship. The event featured over 40 teams, comprised of both male and female athletes in two divisions, including a Canada Games division.
Team Alberta swept Team Manitoba in three straight sets in a best of five (26-24, 25-15 and 25-23) to win the gold medal and the 2022 Canada Cup July 24.
“From the beginning we knew Manitoba was going to be our biggest opponent. There’s a lot of good club teams from Manitoba that we’ve played — they were very, very, very good,” he said.
It was Rigney’s first time training with and playing for Team Alberta, which he qualified for earlier in the year after being invited to several camps in Red Deer and Edmonton. His exceptional play and skill caught the attention of Volleyball Canada officials, and he was one of 12 players chosen to make Team Alberta for the 2022 Canada Cup.
Rigney took part in an ID camp in April and a selection camp in June as well as a training camp in July, prior to the Canada Cup tournament. “We were training pretty much all of July — we trained in Edmonton for 10 days and then we trained in Calgary for four days and then there was the four-day tournament,” said Rigney.
Players from across the province including those from Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Camrose and Westlock made up Team Alberta, who all worked together to develop chemistry and prepare for the tournament. Rigney noted some of the key areas they focused on in training camp.
“It was just a great experience, tons of nice guys,” said Rigney. “We did a lot of work on offence, being deceptive to creating easy ways to score and we did a lot of drills based on communication to get everybody comfortable with each other. When you only have a month to create team chemistry, we did targeted drills to focus on our communication and chemistry,” he added. “I guess it all came together and worked for us.”
Head coach Jordan Taylor, who was also coach of Rigney’s NAVC club this season and coached him to a gold medal at club nationals in May, said his team’s gold medal at the Canada Cup was a full team effort and had a winning combination of attitude and skill.
“From Day 1 at the start of our training, every single athlete completely bought into the process, they bought into the training and they committed themselves not only to their individual craft, but to their teammates as well,” said Taylor. “I knew from early on, that this group was obviously very skilled but from a team development standpoint, was pretty special … they left their egos at the door and they came to work every day.”
Rigney is entering Grade 12 at R.F. Staples School in September and plans to continue with the NAVC club in Edmonton for his final club year and hopes to make another run at national’s next season. He’s also been in talks with several schools about scholarships and is staying busy this summer with Team Alberta or Team Canada programs.
“The Canada Games for U19 comes every two years and in my U19 year there’ll be a Canada Games team for Alberta that I’ll try out for,” said Rigney. “As soon as the high school season starts I can sign with a university in Canada and that’s what I’m looking to do.”