Student of the Game

There’s a new kid in town — and that’s good news for the Stettler Wildcats.

Braden Deagle was the senior high school male athlete of the year last year at Consort School.

There’s a new kid in town — and that’s good news for the Stettler Wildcats.

Braden Deagle has jumped into the William E. Hay Composite High School athletic program with the same enthusiasm that made him a standout at Consort School in previous years.

Deagle, a Grade 11 student, is a member of the senior boys’ volleyball team at his new school, and plans to play other sports later in the school year.

His family moved to Stettler this summer, and Deagle was keen to continue an active lifestyle that has been his way of life since elementary school. Last year, he was the senior male athlete of the year at Consort School, and was recognized as the MVP in basketball and track and field.

“We’re excited to have Braden here at William E. Hay,” said Wildcats senior boys’ volleyball coach Erroll Brager, a new teacher at the school.

“It looks like he’s going to be a great addition to our athletic program.”

Early in the high school volleyball season, Deagle has already emerged as a go-to man for the Wildcats.

“Braden is a very versatile player,” Brager said. “He can play pretty well any position. We’ve got him setting now, but he can hit the ball as well.

“He shows lots of dedication and leadership. He shows up to work every day in practice and takes it seriously. He sets a good example for everybody.”

Deagle, 16, is used to taking volleyball seriously. He comes from a reputable Consort program that’s small-town in name only. Volleyball hasn’t been as prominent a sport in Stettler, so it’s been an adjustment for Deagle on and off the court.

“It’s definitely a lot different than Consort, because Consort is so serious about it,” he said.

“The coaches are pretty crazy (intense) there. They work you hard. “This year, it’s a little less serious (with the Wildcats), but we’re definitely improving. I was leery at the beginning, but I’m pretty impressed with how we’re coming along. It should be pretty good this year.”

The Wildcats resume league action tonight when they visit the Hunting Hills Lightning in Red Deer. Although such tests can be as daunting as writing final exams, the opportunity to play against high-calibre city schools is one of the perks that Deagle has appreciated since joining the Wildcats and a new league.

“I’ve never played those teams before, because it’s always just been small towns, for the past five years,” he said.

“It’s really good to get to play (city teams), because the skill level is pretty high compared to what’s out there. It’s difficult competition. The league will be pretty hard.”

Deagle believes his transition to a new team, school and community has been eased through his involvement in sports.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” he said. “Sports definitely makes life more enjoyable. It’s just what I love to do. It helps to get to know people, so that’s what I was looking forward to (in moving to Stettler). It definitely helps build friendships, so it makes it easier.”

Deagle visited Stettler last spring to participate in the area track and field championships, which were a springboard for the zone and provincial meets. At the high school provincials in Edmonton, he placed sixth among 16 athletes in the junior boys’ long jump, despite battling with shin splints.

Next spring, Stettler will host the zone track and field championships, and Deagle hopes to sport the Wildcats’ green and yellow.

“I’m really planning on working hard this year,” he said. “I’ve seen how intense the Stettler coach (Anthony Jones) is, so I know they have a pretty strong track team. I’m looking forward to that.”

It seems there’s no looking back for the five-foot-10, 135-pound Deagle, who juggled all four of the sports options offered at Consort School — volleyball, basketball, badminton and track and field.

He was the point guard with Consort’s basketball team, and he hopes to join the Wildcats for the coming hoops season.

“I’ve been playing basketball since Grade 5,” Deagle said. “I love both volleyball and basketball, so it’s really hard to say (which is my favourite). That’s a really tough question. I don’t even know if I can answer that.”

Volleyball might be emerging as his first choice.

“One of my friends from my old town wants to play club (volleyball) this year,” Deagle said of that competitive level. “When (the Wildcats) played in the Vikings tournament at Camrose (the weekend before last), one of the university students said that they were interested in me coming to tryouts. So I’m thinking, possibly, about trying for club this year, so that would mean having to sacrifice basketball.

“But the main reason why I’d go is just to play with my friend (Frank Kim). It would be really nice to do it again, but it’s just the travelling takes a lot of time.”

Deagle and Kim were also badminton partners last year and they competed at the zone championships in Stettler last spring.

Deagle, the youngest of five siblings, wears the No. 8 jersey with the Wildcats. He said it’s long been a popular number for his sports-minded family.

He knew for about a year that his family had planned to move from their Veteran-area home to Stettler, where his father Rob manages the Future Ag dealership.

“I’ve playing sports with some of those (Consort) guys since Grade 6, so it’s definitely a huge change this year,” he said.

“I’d honestly think about playing volleyball and basketball with my friends every day. You just get used to having them around. It’s really weird, coming to a new town and having to play sports with no one you know.”

Not to mention the adjustment to a considerably bigger high school in Stettler.

“Coming from a small town, you grow up with the same kids, you know pretty much everyone in the entire school, and you know the teachers personally, so everyone knows who you are,” Deagle said.

“And now, you come to this school and it’s huge compared to tiny 70 students in high school in Consort. You see people here that you don’t recognize every single day. In Consort, you never get that. You know absolutely everyone.

“It’s definitely a big change. It’s really weird being the new kid, considering I lived my entire life (in the same environment). But it’s been pretty easy to get to know people (in Stettler).”

Deagle might be able to reconnect with his past — and buddies — later this volleyball season. His new coach is trying to schedule an exhibition game against Consort. “That would be sweet to play them,” he said. “It would definitely be weird.”

Not surprisingly, Deagle is already scouting other sports options in Stettler, and mentioned possibly registering for club soccer next summer.

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