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Club News Story

Original Mavericks become first male volleyball members of Dalhousie Hall of Fame.

2016 / 05 / 04

The festivities were hosted by SportNet anchor Ken Read who kept the action fast and furious with many light moments about the inductees and their children. The induction was a brief moment with Athletic director Tim Maloney making the presentation while Read read the long and stellar bios of both brothers. It made me think that much like our modern Lortie bros. the VIllenueuve’s would have been excellent candidates for the Ken Davies award. (The award did not exist at that point as Ken was a teammate of each of the Villenueves on successive Team Ontarios before his untimely death.) After all the official procedures were said and done it was time for a light-hearted roast/interview with the guys in comfy chairs on stage. This subtle move by the Dal organizers made you feel at home with the two together as it should be.

Read opened with the obvious question of “Who is better between you?” to lighten the mood. It continued with several quality moments that showed the true character of the two sons of Mary and Guy Potvin, but none more so than when Paul responded to the question about why he remained in Halifax after his career was over. An ovation erupted from the partisan after he complimented the city, people and life that is Halifax Nova Scotia.

When the evening was done officially the remainder of the night was a treat for the brothers as alumni and current tigers gathered for an after party which of course brought out stories and laughs from years gone by. This setting reminded me why teams and competition as a team lead to such strong bonds for life. The group shared not only Dal stories but Maverick moments as well in a chicken soup for the soul wind-up. The room full of many generations of players represented the fact that both Paul and Eric were blocks upon which a great tradition was built and they were here to show their respect and admiration for two first class individuals.

If you have made it this far in the article you are either over 35 or really need to kill time before getting down to studying, so here is the history and how these two guys from Beacon Hill set the wheels in motion for a program that is Nationally renowned and has a long and deep connection to our club.

Dalhousie is Canada’s oldest university and the men’s volleyball team was amongst the first to compete in what was then the CIAU. The men’s program began in 1959 when the Atlantic conference added the sport to it’s line up of varsity competitions.

Their first Atlantic conference championship was in the ‘71 season and the love affair began. The Tigers are the school record holder for National championship appearances with 36 titles leading to entry alone. This has included a CIS record 25 straight appearances.

The school’s biggest move was hiring a BC native, Al Scott to run the program in 1979. From that point on the team was not only an AUS power but also gained National recognition with medals in 89, 94, 95 and 97 along with three other final four appearances. It was the run of 94-97 that was driven by the brothers Villeneuve and several other Maverick alumni. (Chris Schwarz ‘91, Jamie Mallon ’92, Scott Brake ‘93 and Jason Trepanier ’94)*

Paul was the first Maverick player to be named to Team Ontario in 1988 and it was there that he caught the eye of coach Scott and the recruiting was on. Paul along with fellow Maverick Team Ontario and Colonel By grad David St Helene ‘89 began the flood of Ontario and especially Maverick players made the move east. Paul and David had immediate impact on the program as their team co-rookies of the year with Paul getting the nod as AUS top recruit. Paul began the rebuilding phase of the program and after a standout 1st year knew that his little brother would be a great fit for the Tigers. So in the fall of 1990 when his school team was at the Dal Classic HS tournament Paul had his teammates do the recruiting for coach Scott and Eric was signed and sealed.

Coming fresh off a Team Ontario summer Eric too had an immediate impact on the Tiger roster along with fellow Team O. & Mustang teammate Chris Schwarz. The Tigers now began their climb back up the CIAU rankings again. Eric was a talented all around player who began as a setter, like his brother, then played some middle at CB but truly flourished when he was converted to an outside hitter. At Dal his work ethic and passion for winning dragged many of his teammates to achieve at their highest level. Schwarz was a leftside from Carleton Place whose physical ability -11’7” spike touch- and confidence made him an impact player immediately.

In 1994 after a fall semester sabbatical from school Paul returned for his final season with the Tigers and immediately the team became a National contender. With the tournament at home the Tigers won their quarter final and after a heart crushing 5 set loss to the eventual champions Laval the Tigers held tight for the second Bronze medal in program history. A great finish for Paul alongside Eric to end his career. Now with this momentum and some incredible recruits from our club Jamie Malllon and Jason Trepanier along with Scott Brake the Tigers would stay near the top of the CIAU for 3 more seasons. A bronze the following year was followed by a disappointing 5th at Nationals while Eric was exploring the professional scene in France. Returning home for a last go as his brother had done, he led the Tigers into the finals and a National TSN (new back then) broadcast. With 4 Maverick alumni as starters the Tigers fell just short of bringing the title to the East coast for the first time.

L-R   David St Helene, Paul Villeneuve, Jamie Mallon, Kerry MacLean, Jason Trepanier, Eric Villeneuve and coach Al Scott.

*in the competitive rebirth era (‘99-present) of the club Maverick grads Dan Whitting (’03) and Travis MacLean (’08) and Scott Bailey (’13) have also been significant contributors to the Dal program.

“ Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ”
– Confucius