Sandy was introduced to volleyball in grade 8 by his P.E. teacher at Macpherson Junior High, Art Templeman. After playing on school teams through grade 11 at Macpherson and Prince of Wales Collegiate, he was recruited to the YMCA team by Luke Stern in the fall of 1969 after the school season.
While failing to make the 1971 Canada Games team, Sandy played for the Y juniors and Y White teams through the spring of 1974, when he and several of the younger guys decided to form their own team. Thus, in the fall of 1974, the Onca Volleyball Club was formed. Sandy went on to play with Onca Senior AA, A, B and now C teams right up to this year’s championships in Glenwood – 40 years of passion and excellence!! (at least until recently!)
Along the way he has been a part of numerous tournaments and 10 provincial championship teams, attained numerous all-star and other awards and participated in six Atlantic championships, 3 national Championships and invitationals in Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Sandy became interested in getting involved in all aspects of the delivery of the sport of volleyball at the age of 20 and started coaching, with Bill, in the inaugural season as they started an Onca junior team. In Onca’s second season they started a girls program with each taking a team. That continued for many years with Sandy coaching all levels of women’s teams and supporting some of the younger coaches coming up through; Todd, Scott Stevenson, Trish Bradbury and many others.
Sandy always had an interest in organization and administration and took on a lead role in running the club as secretary and treasurer and has been, for several decades now, unopposed as club president at the annual meetings which aren’t bothered with anymore!
He also was the lead in organizing invitational tournaments in the early years as Onca had its Fall Invitational and Spring Open (the double-entendre name of which always caused him great delight!). He also offered himself as secretary of the NVA in 1975 and the older folks (most of which are here today) were delighted to have an enthusiastic, if somewhat naïve, young upstart to do all their writing for them. And for several years his newsletter and minutes were legendary (at least in his own mind!). Sandy always has believed in the importance of public relations and its value in promoting the sport.
He enjoyed writing press releases and reports many of which were used verbatim by the Evening Telegram and Daily News while their journalists busied themselves reporting on more lucrative and illustrious sport activities.
Sandy, along with Bill and Guy Bradbury, was the founder of the Molson Cup provincial league, something which he worked very hard at establishing and running over several seasons. It was agreed to approach a brewery to act as sponsor and maybe, get the awards donated -To say that Molson jumped in with boundless support would be understating their impact on the early years and the participation, organization and promotion were, literally, second to none in sport in the province, rivaled only by the NAHA senior league. The league started in the 1976-77 season culminating with both Onca teams winning the inaugural championships and Molson providing sweats and jackets for the winners and all-stars, which was the first of Sandy’s 4 provincial all-star awards over the years. The league carried on for several more seasons in various forms and with various numbers of teams before evolving into a more St. John’s based league. Sandy was involved in the executive of this for several years, as well.
Sandy very proudly represented the NVA on the board of the Canadian Volleyball Association for 10 years ensuring that the province had a strong voice and pushed hard for benefits for NL. He secured and chaired the 1981 National Juvenile Championships which was one of the best ever held in Canada, certainly in those days.
He secured and chaired the 1983 exhibition match between Canada and Cuba men’s’ teams, which was one of the most impressive, competitive, athletic and hard-fought sport events ever in the province. Subsequent visits by the national team followed with Sandy always in the lead. Other Nationals, Eastern Canadians and Atlantic championships were chaired by Sandy or saw him as a key committee member while often playing and/or coaching.
Sandy also used his contacts from grad school at the University of Alberta to get involved in the 1983 Universiade in Edmonton. He was a competition site manager for volleyball and was able to play a key role in the on-site event.
Sandy coached both Memorial University varsity teams as he filled in for Keith Taylor with the men’s team in the fall of 1981 and then coached the women to second place in the AUAA Championships hosted by MUN in the 1982-83 season.
Sandy stepped back from coaching and heavy involvement in the sport in 1990,when he and Karen were blessed with a bouncing volleyball-shaped boy, Alex. With the quick subsequent arrivals of Meredith and Rebecca, Sandy was only able to get out of the house once or twice a week to referee and earn a little money to feed the mouths. Except for working on the host committee for the 1999 Canadian Juveniles, refereeing and occasional playing was pretty well all he had time for in volleyball until Alex hit grade 7 at I.J Samson in 2001 – “dad, you’re coaching us”.
And that led to a second career in coaching his children until 2011 at I.J and Gonzaga. One season he coached or co-coached all three kids on three different teams. This was eased when Pete took pity on him after Alex and Scott moved into grade 11 and took the solo reigns of the boy’s team at Gonzaga.
Sandy concluded his coaching career, to this point at least, by coaching his girls in the women’s senior A league in 2011-12.
Suffice to say that the joy, pride and satisfaction of coaching his children in his later years were as important, in a different way, perhaps, than any of the activities and accomplishments of the 70’s and 80’s.