Photo/Story Credit: Jessica Dempsey, Cranbrook Townsman
Cranbrook's own Jordan Simpson has signed to play with the College of the Rockies Avalanche men's volleyball team next year.
Simpson, a recruit from Mount Baker High School, has been a key prospect the college has been scouting.
"From the moment I got here I identified him as basically one of the most important recruits in this class of 2019," said head coach Cisco Farrero.
"I identified him as somebody I really wanted to add to our program, and watching him grow literally and figuratively as he is now up over 6'8 will be a huge asset to our program."
It's not only his height that makes Simpson standout but his volleyball sense as well.
"He's a combination of the length you look for in a middle blocker, as well as the brain. He knows the game quite well and as he keeps growing into his body he is going to get better and better," said Farrero, adding he will improve at a fast pace
"He has a good nose for the game, he understands what's going on the other side of the court, how he needs to give himself spacing as an attacker. He's definitely a next level athlete."
There are a couple of things Farrero said he can work on as he prepares for next year, including getting stronger.
"It's very rare that an 18-year-old athlete is ready physically. Post-secondary men's volleyball is a man's game, and I'm sure Jordan will do quite well in developing his body in terms of strength to match the length," he said.
Wanting to stay local was a big reason Simpson decided to stay in Cranbrook and play for COTR next year.
"I wanted to stay local so I can go to work and school and still stay at home with my family," he said.
"Post-secondary volleyball has been my dream, and now my dreams are coming true," he said.
Simpson has been playing volleyball since Grade 9 and has loved it ever since.
"I just like to focus that it takes and the determination that you have to have for the sport," he said.
His height is going to be an advantage next year for the team, as well as his personality.
"I can be the biggest guy on the team and can always hype all the guys up. We all have a good connection because I've known them for a while. We are close like that," he said.
"I think it's really important to have local talent. We have a good sports town, there is usually one to two athletes every single that can join our program. For me in order to be successful the kids that are good enough here need to come play here, so that's priority number one for me," he said.
Seeing that Simpson wanted to play in his hometown showcased the benefits of the program.
"I think it's a really great time to be an Av," said Farrero. "We have a lot of energy, a lot of firepower- Jordan fits into that next crop of it."
While it's still a while until the 2019/20 season, Simpson is already gearing up to play in front of the home crowd.
"It's going to be extraordinary knowing all my friends and family are able to come out and watch me and have the support of the crowd behind me," he said.