Ryan Littlejohn set to spike at nationals
Ryan Littlejohn set to suit up for Clarenville team in Ontario
Ryan Littlejohn has proven his capabilities as a young volleyballer in a few unique settings. Now the Coley’s Point resident is gearing up to compete with a team based in Clarenville at a national competition in Waterloo, Ont. The 15-year-old is looking forward to gaining more experience on the hardcourt.
Ryan Littlejohn, a Grade 10 student at Ascension Collegiate, has an exciting few months coming up in his volleyball career.
Littlejohn has been playing volleyball since the summer leading into Grade 9, where he made the selection camp for the provincial team.
He didn’t make the provincial team that year, but that only drove the 15-year-old to push himself harder the following year.
This lead to Littlejohn being nominated as male athlete of the year by the NLBA, and an email following the nomination announcement telling him he made the team.
“That was a really big accomplishment for me,” said Littlejohn. “I was really excited. I never thought I’d ever do as good as I did.”
Littlejohn, who was 14 at the time, was selected as captain of the team, who went on to win gold in the tier 1 tournament, naming them the top team in Atlantic Canada.
Littlejohn’s love of volleyball had him looking to Clarenville, since his hometown of Bay Roberts didn’t have much to offer competitively when it comes to his sport of choice.
Despite not being from the area, Littlejohn was able to attend tryouts, and is now playing for The Impact as a setter. The team is competing at nationals May 4-7 in Waterloo, Ont.
At this point, volleyball has become a major part of the Littlejohn family’s life. Ryan’s father used to play the sport, and his brother, who is in Grade 6, has just recently started playing as well.
“My family’s life seems to revolve around my volleyball schedule,” said Littlejohn with a chuckle. “Sometimes I have four to five practices a week. We even plan our vacations around it. We like to go to New Brunswick in the summer, so my mom’s trying to plan around that this time as well.”
Volleyball is not the only sport Littlejohn plays. He’s also on the school’s badminton team, though he said he looks at badminton as a good way to practice for volleyball.
“Badminton requires the same kind of skills as volleyball — speed and agility mostly,” he said. “So I use badminton as an extra chance to train for volleyball.”
Littlejohn says that getting to play a national tournament has always been a dream of his, having only played in Atlantic tournaments up until now.
Littlejohn has been watching a specific club on YouTube, who he may have a chance to play against if schedules align. The club, known as Pakmen, is from Ontario and offers volleyball programs for ages six to 18.
“That’s pretty cool to think about,” he said.
“I watch those guys on YouTube to see how I can improve, and now I might get the chance to play against them. It’s exciting.”
To add to the list of excitement over the next month, Littlejohn has been in contact with Dan Ota, coach of the Dalhousie University volleyball team. Littlejohn told The Compass that the Dalhousie Tigers have always been his favourite university team and, despite not winning these past two years, he’s always looked up to them. Ota explained to Littlejohn how he picks players for his team, saying that he looks for people who show great potential.
With this in mind, Littlejohn said he’d be pushing himself as much as he can to do his best during nationals.
“My family’s life seems to revolve around my volleyball schedule.” Ryan Littlejohn
The Eastern Impact 16U male volleyball club team (front, from left) manager Brian Avery, Isaac Avery, Lucas Efford, Cole Mackey, Tyler Green, Jody Jacobs, and director of operations Ian Mackey; (back) coach Jakob Walsh, Nick Dawe, Lucas Collins, Noah Moulton, Max Stoyles, Taran Leonard, Ryan Littlejohn, Reilly Adams, coach Matt Green and coach Glen Moulton.
Ryan Littlejohn in action at the 2016 Summer Games playing beach volleyball.