April 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 98  

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SPORTS

Catching Up: Volleyball player Jeff Mattingley

By Kyle Hampson
Gazette Staff

Dave Picard/Gazette
WILSON SHOULD’VE NEVER LEFT TOM HANKS. Western volleyball player Jeff Mattingley winds up to punish a scared volleyball at the opposing team.

Controlled aggression — is there such a thing?

Western men’s volleyball coach Jim Sage seems to think so, at least when describing Jeff Mattingley’s performance on the court. “Jeff plays the game with such emotion, leadership and heart. He displays something I would call controlled aggression,” he says.

Sage has had the pleasure of coaching Mattingley at different levels, in a Juvenile league here in London and now at Western.

“I’ve always enjoyed coaching Jeff, even though the experience has been sort of limited,” Sage explains. “He’s brought so much to every team he’s been on. He took four years off from volleyball and experimented with other sports, but came back the last two years and simply dominated the competition.”

As a natural, all-around athlete, Mattingley has been able to display above average performances in every sport he has competed in.

“I played both hockey and basketball at fairly competitive levels when I was younger,” Mattingley says. “I actually tried out for the [Western] basketball team. I went near the final rounds of cuts, but decided that it wasn’t the right choice for me at the time.

“Coming back to volleyball, and being coached by Jim Sage again, definitely made the transition a lot easier for me. He pushes me to work hard, but I consider him a great friend,” Mattingley says, showing his appreciation for his long-time coach.

It turns out his decision was the correct one as he — along with teammate Pete Sidler — has been one of Western’s best players over the past few years. His statistics from the 2004 season prove it. Mattingley led his teammates in total kills for the season with 214 in 70 games played, giving him an average of 3.06 per game. He was second on the team in service aces — which placed him eighth in Ontario University Athletics, and was third on the team in blocks. His performance this season led directly to many of Western’s victories during the 2003/04 campaign.

Mattingley has played volleyball for the Western men’s team the last two years, and was dominant again this season. His powerful spikes equated into many kills and thus, numerous points for the Western team.

“Jeff is definitely one of the hardest hitter’s in the OUA, if not Canada. He has unlimited potential to improve as well, it’s almost scary,” Sage says.
Mattingley has always had a powerful swing, and apparently has left an impression on many of his opponents, literally.

“I’ve hit a few people with the ball extremely hard. I remember one instance in high school when I knocked some guy out,” Mattingley says.

During one game this year against York University, Mattingley hit a player directly on the left cheek, causing the player’s head to jolt back approximately one foot. Teammate Kyle Brady remembers playing against Mattingley when both were young players in London.

“All I heard leading up to the game against Oakridge (Mattingley’s high school team) was how hard Jeff hits the ball and how good he was. This was coming from our own coach,” Brady says.

One would think Mattingley is a prototypical spiker, however, according to textbook volleyball his swing is far from perfect.

“I’ve always had an awkward swing. Many people have told me so, but it gets the job done I guess. I can’t complain about it now.”

This is a guy that opponents fear, especially blockers at the net who see Mattingley and his awkward swing winding up to punish a Wilson volleyball right into their awaiting bodies.

“He’s a guy you hate playing against but love having on your team,” Brady says.

Certainly, many opposing OUA players would tell you the same. Mattingley graduates from Western this year, which means he will not be returning to Alumni Hall’s volleyball court next season. Teams across the OUA must be rejoicing at the fact they will not have to face Mattingley and his “controlled aggression” again.

 

 

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