Wildcats most sportsmanlike at provincials

R.A. McMath Wildcats earned sixth place at the 2012 provincials. - sub
R.A. McMath Wildcats earned sixth place at the 2012 provincials.
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The R.A. McMath Wildcats proved to be a force at the B.C. AAAA high school senior girls’ volleyball championship last weekend in Port Coquitlam.

And if not for the powerhouse South Delta Sun Devils, which defeated them in the quarter-finals en route to the provincial title, the Wildcats might have fared even better than their sixth-place finish.

The talented McMath squad played with intensity throughout their matches, with Katrina Tolentino earning all-star team recognition. But as a group, perhaps the greatest honour they received was being named the most sportsmanlike team—further reflecting on their always-positive head coach Rob Forbes and his assistant Rick Hansen.

Forbes began coaching the team as Grade 8s and said then: “The year these girls graduate, will be the year I retire.” That time has come and he’s now handed in his notice to the school board and will be retiring this June.

To say that Forbes is proud of the girls would be an understatement.

“They did an unbelievable job this weekend,” he said. “We went in ranked No. 8 and came out in sixth, exceeding our expectations. We were hoping to just get in the provincials this year because in the Lower Mainland we had no idea what the Vancouver schools would do because they never played any (invitationals). But we never lost a game (in the Lower Mainlands).”

Forbes said he was especially proud that the Wildcats were named the most sportsmanlike team at the provincials for the second year in a row. He said in his eyes the honour is on par with winning the championship.

“They’ve been first class since I started coaching them in Grade 8 and have never varied in their performance or attitude,” he said. “It’s a credit to their parents who’ve been very supportive of the program.”

Forbes also lauded assistant coach Rick Hansen, who he stressed deserves multiple kudos for his positive influence. Prior to the start of the season, Hansen agreed to speak to the Thompson Rivers University players if the WolfPack coach would include the Wildcats in a workshop. Forbes said that camp significantly helped the McMath players during the season.

Hansen’s presence also made a huge difference in giving the Wildcats two sets of eyes from the sidelines, said Forbes.

“He’s obviously very knowledgeable in volleyball, but also sees the game different than I do (at times),” said Forbes. “Sometimes I’d get focused on trying to keep the girls focused and he’d come up with some technical thing.

I think we complemented each other well. He also called our serving all year, which was one of our strengths. We weren’t the biggest or strongest but our serving won us a lot of games.”

Reflecting upon a coaching career that spanned 33 years, Forbes said: “I loved every minute of it.”

“I was talking to someone the other day and noted you don’t do something that long and not enjoy it,” he said. “But I was fortunate to coach some pretty talented kids. I’m going to miss it, but not those late-night games and practices.”

The Wildcats were a force to reckon with under Forbes’ watch. As Grade 8s they went 52-2. They didn’t lose many games afterward either.

The 2012 Wildcats were: Shannon Boe, Hilary Schaap, Rebecca Hansen, Carling Matsuzaki, Danielle Kiss, Emma Partridge, Katrina Tan, Natasha Magnus, Amelia Ball, Katrina Tolentino, Marta Gorgopa, Amber Pomeroy and Alynn Meginbir.

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