It is going to be an exciting couple of weeks coming up for local school teacher and volleyball coach Shane Thomas and Lake Melville School student Grace Tuglavina as both have been selected to represent Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the upcoming Eastern Elite Volleyball Championships.
The tournament is taking place in Halifax, N.S. between July 21 and 30 with teams representing Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador all competing in the event.
Shane Thomas, who is a teacher at the Lake Melville School, has been selected to coach the Under 15 Male team.
"Grace and I, with our respective teams, will be in St. John’s for training the week of July 16th, then will travel to Wolfville, Nova Scotia for a week of training at Acadia University and then will continue on to Halifax for the EEC tournament," Thomas told The Labradorian.
At the recent NLVA Provincial Awards, Thomas was a finalist for the Senior High School Volleyball Coach of the Year and was part of the Team NL Winter Games volleyball coaching staff at this year’s event in Deer Lake.
Grace Tuglavina has accomplished quite a bit so far in her short volleyball career. Playing with the Lake Melville School Team only two years ago, and as a Grade 8 student at the end of the recent school year, Tuglavina was part of the NL senior team's starting lineup.
This year was Tuglavina's second full season and she was part of the school team's success in securing the gold medal at the Under 18 Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Championships in their division. Tuglavina was a key contributor to the team’s success and what makes this so remarkable, apart from her short tenure of time in the sport is that she is just 13-years-old competing with and against 17-year-old athletes.
Considering the fact Tuglavina and her school teammates do not participate in any regular, scheduled competitions, an athlete of her calibre could be a candidate to relocate to the island so she would be able to compete in regular, weekly competition and be exposed to more intensive coaching and training resources. That is currently no in her plans, however.
“My parents asked me if I wanted to move away, but I don’t want to leave my school, community, family or friends,” she said.
“I will have to work a little harder to compete at the provincial level, but with the help from my school, my parents, family, friends and the community, I know I can do it.”
After the recent Winter Games that were held in Deer Lake earlier this year, Tuglavina was identified as a player of interest by the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association and was invited to try out for the provincial team. She took full advantage of the opportunity and after the tryouts were completed, she received notification that she had been selected as part of the Team Newfoundland and Labrador Eastern Elite volleyball team.
“She has a true passion for this sport and strives to improve with every opportunity she faces. As her coach, it has been an honour to coach her and watch her develop into the elite level player she has become,” said Thomas.
Editors Note: A previous version of this article stated 'Happy Valley-Goose Bay athlete and coach representing Team Newfoundland and Labrador.' That has now been corrected to North West River and the Labradorian apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.