Former Team Canada coach to head Ooks women’s volleyball program
Lorne Sawula, former coach of Canada’s national women’s volleyball team, will lead NAIT’s women’s volleyball squad in the 2012-13 season. Sawula, who has been nicknamed Dr. Volleyball for his lifelong commitment to the sport, will cover for current coach Erminia Russo Thorpe, who is taking a one-year leave of absence. He begins June 1.
"We are pleased and very excited to have Lorne as part of our coaching staff,” said Linda Henderson, NAIT’s director of athletics and recreation. “Lorne's reputation and experiences with Volleyball Canada and with coaching a number of national teams gives our student-athletes an outstanding opportunity to learn from one of the best volleyball minds in the world. We are so fortunate to have him at NAIT."
Sawula’s love for volleyball began at an early age. He attended Bonnie Doon Composite High School, where he starred in volleyball, football and track and field. He enrolled at the University of Alberta in 1964 and won a spot on the Golden Bears volleyball team, a berth that he held until 1969.
Sawula has dedicated his life to mentoring young players. Over the years, he has coached several national women’s teams, including the Canadians (1982-1988 and 2001-2005), the Swiss (1990-1993), the Australians (1994) and the Swedes (1997-1999). The records of few volleyball coaches can approach Sawula’s numerous appearances at international competitions, including Volleyball World championships (6), FISU Games (7), Olympic Games (1), Pan American Games (2), Pan American Cup (2), Canada Cup (4) and NORCECA championships (4).
"I am very pleased that I can support Erminia and the NAIT women's volleyball program by coaching the team,” said Sawula. “It will be a newer team with a good selection of first year recruits and just enough returning veterans to make this a year where we will have chances to perform at a high level within conference play. The players will be given responsibilities within the team structure and with that comes accountability on the court. Demands will be high and, hopefully, it will be a positive year for everyone involved with a strong core awaiting Erminia's return."
Sawula has a bachelor of physical education, a master of arts in PE and a Ph.D. from the U of A.
NAIT is one of Canada’s leading polytechnics, with almost 80,000 registrations worldwide in key areas including science, technology and the environment, business, health care and trades. Known for real-world education and student success, NAIT also engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. NAIT enrolled its first students - 29 communication electrician apprentices - in 1962 and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.
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