Continuing the legacy
When Ben Holmes was introduced to volleyball in middle school, he discovered his passion. “I first started playing volleyball in grade 7,” he explains. “I used to play football before that but after my first volleyball camp, I became hooked.”
At a young age, Ben started following volleyball at Red Deer College and his idols on the court turned into mentors. “I lived in Red Deer my whole life, and I came out to quite a few college volleyball games,” he says. “I’d see many RDC volleyball alumni come into the schools and coach the club programs, and we looked up to those guys.”
Ben’s skill and success on the court progressed. He joined Kings Club Volleyball and also helped lead the Lindsay Thurber Raiders Senior Boys Volleyball team to a silver medal at the 4A Volleyball Zones. In 2016, he was named the Raiders Senior Boys Volleyball Co-MVP.
Ben’s performance in high school and with Kings Club Volleyball caught the attention of RDC Kings Head Coach Aaron Schulha. “After grade 11 with the U17 club team, Aaron started talking with me about the possibility of coming to RDC and when he eventually made an offer, I jumped at it pretty quickly,” Ben says.
Ben was introduced to the winning traditions of the Red Deer College Kings Volleyball program early in his student-athlete career. In 2016-17, the power hitter’s inaugural season in an RDC uniform, the talented Kings team captured Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) gold on their home court and then won gold at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship in Ontario. Remarkably, the national title was the Kings’ 13th since 1995.
The historic victory made a significant impact on Ben at the time, and he expects that the memories will last forever. “In my first year, playing in the national finals was awesome and I’m sure looking back it will be one of the best experiences of my life,” he says.
The culture of greatness on and off the court defines the RDC Kings, and Ben is proud to uphold and continue the values of the legendary program. “In terms of volleyball, to help build the legacy further is really important to me,” says Holmes. “Being able to be part of the tradition of excellence of Red Deer College and the volleyball program is a dream come true.”
RDC has helped shape Ben’s life beyond volleyball. “When you come out of high school, you often don’t know what you want to do, or who you want to be, and RDC really helped me find that. I’m in my third year of the University of Calgary Bachelor of Arts collaborative program in Psychology, which is offered at RDC. I am planning on eventually going into law or psychiatry,” he says. “At RDC you get a lot of the benefits of a large post-secondary school, but you don’t feel like just another face at a big institution. You get to know your classmates and teachers, and build those relationships in ways that I don’t think that you’d be able to do somewhere else. My experiences here made me who I am.”
Ben and the Kings will play for their 14th CCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championship, as they host the top Canadian collegiate male volleyball teams from March 6 to 9, 2019 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
“Hosting nationals in March will be incredible. The community has always been supportive of us. When you play in big games, you feel like you are competing for more than just yourself,” he says. “You’re playing for the guys who came before you, upholding the RDC Kings Volleyball tradition, and playing for the community. It feels like you’re playing for something bigger.”