Saying all your goodbyes
By Brendan Howe and John Intini
On a night to honour graduating greatness, rookie Craig Rideout let the Alumni Hall fans know that the volleyball program will remain intact even after the departure of three veterans: Geoff Miller, Colin Shawyer and Rob Mizak.
Rideout helped the Mustangs in their manhandling of a dismal Guelph team Wednesday in three straight sets, 15-6, 15-11, 15-7. The win pushes the Mustangs' record to 9-2.
Head coach Dave Preston pointed to Rideout's versatility on the court as his greatest asset.
"All year he has come through for us when we've needed him," he said. "It was obvious by his play tonight he is going to be a huge piece of the puzzle in the next couple of years."
The modest rookie commented that his confidence has been greatly improved due to the leadership from some of the veterans.
"Just having them cheering for me has been great," Rideout said, "I think that my game has really improved and I owe a lot of the credit to my teammates as well as to coach Preston."
Starting off as a bench player earlier in the year, Rideout only saw action as a replacement for the injured Darren Brownlee. Captain Geoff Miller commented on the added depth that Rideout brings to the team in his fill-in role.
"He did an exceptional job filling in for Darren during his injury," he said. "He can play the outside position really well and his passing and ball control have been a big boost for our attack."
Preston also commented on the possible emergence of the young star as one of the team leaders over the next couple of years.
"He is a quiet kid but leads well through example. With three of our big guns graduating tonight I see no reason why Craig can't jump into their role over the next couple of years. He is still young but come his third and fourth year he is going to be a great player."
Gryphon head coach Doug Dodd said the Mustangs were the team to beat in the West. "It all comes down to experience and size and the Mustang team is stacked with both," he said.
Preston acknowledged he was a little disheartened watching three of his players play their last regular season home game.
"It was obviously a little tough since all three of these guys have been with me since I've started," he said. "They are my first real wave of graduates and I was very proud to watch them be honoured tonight."
The veterans were honoured prior to the game with a small ceremony praising them for their contributions to the team.
Miller, team captain since 1994, said it was a sad feeling to leave Mustang volleyball after five great years but he realizes there is still a lot of volleyball left.
"It might be the last regular season home game but it is not the last home game," he said. "There is still a championship left to win."
Both Mizak and Shawyer share in Miller's sentiments that the main focus right now is the playoffs.
Preston said all three will be greatly missed and have been valuable assets to his team's success. But he hopes they can fulfill one more dream a CIAU championship.
The Mustangs close out their regular season tonight in Waterloo against the Warriors.
Gazette file photos
ARE YOU TRYING TO SEDUCE ME MRS. ROBINSON? Mustang volleyball graduates Rob Mizak, Geoff Miller and Colin Shawyer played their final home game Wednesday.