The Woburn Wildcats senior boys volleyball team didn’t come home with bronze, silver or gold medals in this year’s OFSAA championships. But coach Todd Idenouye considers fourth place a victory in it’s own right.
The ’Cats had lost middle hitter Zachary Ware on Oct. 30 to a congenital heart failure.
Despite his death, the Wildcats managed to muster their first-ever OFSAA championship medal – an antique bronze medal for fourth place.
Ware, a new Grade 11 student at the school after transferring from Wexford Collegiate, played nine league games with the Wildcats before his death. His coach said the team’s league victory would have been dream come true for the young player.
“He always talked about going to an OFSAA championship – he had never been to one before,” Idenouye said. “That motivated us to do well in the championship as best we could.”
Idenouye remembers the 6-foot-6 Ware as a friendly giant who was “very imposing” in appearance, but ” good-natured ” and friendly at heart.
” He was a very fun-loving kid who just enjoyed everything,”Idenouye said. “He made friends very easily. He fit well in with the players that we had.”
In memory of Ware, the team emblazoned his initials and number on the upper left breast of their jerseys.
They also adopted a new T- shirt with the words ” Zachary Ware RIP ” as part of their warm-up uniform.
Dedicating their performance in the remainder of their games to Ware, the Wildcats went on to capture their antique bronze medal after losing their final match against the Georgetown Rebels, 28-26 and 25-21.
The Cats were underdogs in the championships from the start.
Entering as the No. 18 seed on Nov. 23, the Wildcats lost their first two matches of the championships against the Mississauga Lions and the Hillcrest Hawks.
The team, however, managed to hold together and beat the Waterloo Vikings in their next match, 6-25, 29-27 and 15-11 and followed that with a straight set dropping of the Saunders Sabres.
Their brief winning streak, however, was cut short in their match against the Glebe Gryphons, to whom they lost by scores of 25-18, 25-16. The ensuing final loss to Georgetown put an end to the Wildcats’ championship run.
Having won their first OFSAA championship medal, Idenouye and the senior boys team are setting their sights on doing even better next year.
“The sky’s the limit now. Once you’ve gotten to a certain level, you want to improve on that,” Idenouye said,”the next step would be to finish in the top three at OFSAA.”