A pair of deaf White Rock volleyball players are eyeing a return to the Deaflympics later this summer.
Semiahmoo Secondary grad Cole Sanderson – a member of the school’s 2005 provincial champion senior boys team – and Richie Dyck will both compete in beach volleyball at the international tournament, which is set to hit the sand in Sofia, Bulgaria from July 26 until Aug. 4.
But before they head overseas, the duo will be part of a warm-up event closer to home – the first-ever Silent Sand tournament.
The tournament – which organizers call the first of its kind – is set for Richmond’s Six Pack Indoor Beach on July 4, from 6-10 p.m.
It will feature 14 semi-pro and pro men’s beach volleyball teams, which will compete alongside Canada’s two Deaflympic teams. Hearing players will be made “temporarily hearing restricted” by the use of MP3 players and ear muffs; they, like their Deaflympic counterparts, will have to rely soley on their vision in order to compete.
“I’ve played with these guys at Kits (Beach) for 10 years and it’s really exciting to have them be able to experience the game as I do,” said Sanderson, 25.
“It’s totally natural for me to visually scan the court before I hit, but for them, it could be an eye-opener.”
Sanderson is among the province’s most accomplished volleyball players, having won volleyball gold as a teenager at the BC Summer Games, as well as a number of provincial beach volleyball titles.
Since he was a child, he has been one of B.C’s biggest advocates for deaf athletes – when he was 12, he created the first all-deaf Little League team with 10 other deaf children, and in 2006, he was one of just 25 Canadian to receive the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for his efforts.
According to a release, Silent Sand was created this year as a way to “encourage young deaf athletes to continue to pursue sport, as many do not, primarily to language barriers.”
Kyle Brewer, a former captain of Elgin Park Secondary’s volleyball team who also played collegiately, will also take part in the Silent Sand event.