Doug Anton's Volleyball Career

Doug Anton's Volleyball Career

Written by: John Short

Add his 30 years of coaching experience to lengthy terms as a key contributor to both Volleyball Alberta and Volleyball Canada and you get the bare bones of Doug Anton's involvement with the sport he first met as a 13-year-old.

You also get the background that has allowed him, during six years as head coach, to build the NAIT Ooks into a continuing presence as a contender for men's playoff honours – and potential championships, of course – in the nationally-respected Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

Typically, Anton downplays his role, insisting that coaches have little effect on the outcome of a specific game. "There is limited opportunity for hands-on coaching during a game," he said. "In football, there are set plays and defined formations; not so much in this sport."

"Most teams depend on the top seven or eight players for the bulk of everything. We can make quick substitutions – offensive or defensive, depending who's at the service line – but the basic job of winning or losing is with the players."

The sheer game-by-game intensity of a season's schedule is a big reason for his decision to step away from the nation's highest levels of volleyball administration and back behind a bench. "It's the direct competition that appeals to me; the ability to influence athletes directly as they learn and develop."

This philosophy will be continued at NAIT for at least the next three years: "I just signed my new contract," Anton said. "I had a chance to get comfortable with our new athletic director (John Bower III) and it was an easy decision to make."

No doubt, the ongoing improvement in the volleyball outlook was also a factor.

"Some really useful pieces were put in place just before I arrived," he recalled. "It's important that those who started to rebuild the program are not forgotten. We have been maturing slowly – the ACAC is probably the strongest league in Canada, year after year – and our program is still progressing."

Those words were spoken during a two-week layoff as the second-place Ooks prepared to meet first-place Keyano at home Friday and Saturday (Jan. 25-26) in what well could be a Northern Division playoff showdown. "We lost both games at Fort McMurray in October and we're aware that improvement is needed on our part."

Anton pointed out that the Keyano rivalry has become one of his team's most challenging. "We've always had great matches with the Eagles (King's College) and they're still good . . . city rivalry and all that . . . but Keyano seems to be a major factor for us now, every game."

The same is true of the Red Deer Kings, who threaten for national titles year after year, and the SAIT Trojans, who have a solid lead this season in the South Division. "Every team we face has good athletes and they're in good condition. It's the quality of our opposition that means we're still looking for a breakthrough year.

"We're younger and less experienced than Keyano, to name one of the top teams, but we're not far away from our goal."

Experience, or lack thereof, is also an issue: this year's NAIT roster features only one fifth-year player, left-sider Jordan Teliske, whose leadership drew serious praise from his coach.

Holdovers Spencer Fisher, Cole Burkart and Devon Klein also bring clear value, as does Australian setter Mitch Lewington, who shone as a freshman last year and continues his excellent play. "Mitch is one of three Aussies with us (first-year prospects Simon Coat and Brandon Eagle are the others) and they've all helped a lot."

Lewington and Coat, an outside hitter, are often part Australia's national team development programs. "We're happy to get players of this quality," said Anton, recognized internationally for his status as a game- and team-builder. "Volleyball is a small international community," he added. "The ACAC has a lot of strong international players."

"I hear regularly from friends and contacts who know that our league is a good one. Many of the top high-school players in Alberta seem to be lacking height, these days; when we hear that prospects might be available from elsewhere, we have to pay attention."

"I know other coaches get calls, too, and they can tell the same story."

Including the one about how hard it can be to win volleyball medals in the ACAC.

Doug Anton Coaching Stats

 

GP

W

L

%

 

 

Playoffs

W

L

 

2009-10

ALG

18

13

5

0.722

 

 

2009-10

0

2

 

2010-11

ALG

18

13

5

0.722

 

 

2010-11

0

1

 

2011-12

ALG

20

19

1

0.950

 

 

2011-12

1

2

 

2012-13

NAIT

20

4

16

0.200

 

 

2012-13

 

 

 

2013-14

NAIT

18

7

11

0.389

 

 

2013-14

2

1

 

2014-15

NAIT

24

18

6

0.750

 

 

2014-15

2

1

Bronze

2015-16

NAIT

24

14

10

0.583

 

 

2015-16

2

1

5th Place

2016-17

NAIT

24

13

11

0.542

 

 

2016-17

0

2

 

2017-18

NAIT

20

15

5

0.750

 

 

2017-18

 

 

 

Reg Season

 

186

116

70

0.624

 

 

Total

7

10

 

Total

 

203

123

80

0.606

 

 

NAIT

6

5

 

NAIT Reg Season

 

130

71

59

0.546

 

 

 

 

 

 

NAIT Overall

141

77

64

0.5461