by Phil Ambroziak

The Carpenter High School Senior ‘A’ boys volleyball team’s willingness to be all inclusive makes them winners every time they step on to the court.

While the Spartans lost out in the semi-final round of their home tournament this past weekend, each and every player who represented CHS gave it his all, including team member Jackson Bolster.

“Jackson is a huge energy guy for us,” remarked CHS volleyball coach Cheyne Dallyn. “He always has a positive impact on the boys and being so positive himself also helps to bring a different type of energy to the team.”

Bolster, who was born with Down syndrome, has been competing with many of the same teammates since his days at the former Jonas Samson Junior High School. He is currently in Grade 12 and contributes greatly to the Spartans’ success on the court. During CHS’ Friday game against St. Mary High from Prince Albert, for example, Bolster served the ball on at least three occasions which led to back-and-forth volleys that eventually earned points for the hometown team – and a roar from the crowd.

“He really does make a difference on our roster,” Dallyn said. “Jackson is at every practice and is very active. He’s a great addition to the team.”

Bolster’s mother, Lauri Dallyn, said she couldn’t be more happy about how the high school volleyball community has both welcomed and encouraged her son.

“Jackson’s inclusion in volleyball started in Grade 9 with coach Trent Marsh who allowed him to be part of the team,” Lauri Dallyn said. “He would go on all the overnight trips and attend all the big tournaments, which was spectacular because Jackson never had that level of inclusion at school before. Volleyball allows Jackson to be part of a peer group and, more importantly, to be a typical, active teenager. His teammates are just a phenomenal group of kids, many of whom Jackson has known since Kindergarten. It’s great they include him and he loves them.”

Lauri Dallyn went on to say the level of inclusion volleyball has allowed her son to experience goes beyond the walls of Carpenter High as well.

“When he goes to tournaments at other schools it’s high fives all around,” she said. “The other teams are always excited to have him take part. A huge debt of gratitude has to be given to Trent Marsh, Cheyne, all the coaches and his peers for allowing Jackson to be part of the team.”

As for the home tournament itself, Dallyn said the team played very well in Friday’s opening match, defeating their rivals from St. Mary High, as well as gaining wins over Island Lake and Carlton Comprehensive from Prince Albert. Come Saturday’s playoffs, however, the tide began to turn.

“We struggled a bit during playoffs,” he said. “We had a tough time in the semi-final where we again came up against St. Mary High, losing two straight.”

St. Mary would go on to win the tournament.

“We now have the coming weekend (Thanksgiving) off to recover and to get healed up before heading to P.A. Carlton to compete in their tournament the following weekend,” Dallyn said.