The Volleydome Story Part 2: Canada’s Future Olympic Volleyball Successors
The Volleydome is where up-and-coming young volleyball players become top-notch athletes. In this follow-up to last week’s post about Don and Mylene Saxton’s Volleydome, we take a look to the future at the young up and comers that cut their teeth in this volleyball dome.
Built by the Farley Group, the Volleydome has been the proving grounds for future champions for 20 years. The club’s members have gone on to compete around the world. And this year, two Volleydome alumni represented Canada at the Rio Olympic games.
Ben Saxton was born to play volleyball. His parents, Don and Mylene Saxton, are both former world champions. They founded the Canuck Stuff Volleyball Club the same year Ben was born. By age 10, Ben was already keeping up with kids who were years older than him.
Though he excelled at his parents’ sport, Ben was attracted to a different game: beach volleyball. When he was just 16, he hit the U19 World Beach Championships in France—he competed again at the age of 17 in Bermuda. That same summer, he competed with adults but found that he wasn't ready to compete at that level. Yet. Determined to do his best, Ben would persevere and continue competing with the best. In his first few years at the highest level, Ben would often travel thousands of miles to compete but lose in the first qualifying match. Despite his shaky start, Ben kept up with the competition and began to defy the odds as his skill and drive to be the best grew.
In another blow, Ben's team failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. But as is his nature, he renewed his determination; just as Don did when his team didn’t qualify in 1980. Ben found a new partner in Chaim Schalk and moved to California to train year round.
In 2016, he got a second chance. This year, the Saxtons were back at the Olympics as Ben represented Canada in Rio. Ben and Chaim battled to ninth place, beating the Brazilians on their home turf. And just recently, Ben and Chaim just missed the podium, placing 4th in the Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto.
Moreover, Ben wasn’t the only Saxton scion at the Rio Olympics this year. His cousin, Graham Vigrass, played in a different court.
Fresh off earning bronze at the Pan Am Games, Graham joined the men’s indoor volleyball team. He helped Team Canada make a comeback after a 24-year Olympic hiatus. This year, the team beat out the top-ranked American and Brazilian teams and earned a fifth-place finish.
At the next games in Tokyo, there may be another Olympian with Saxton blood. Don and Mylene’s youngest daughter, Camille, has her sights set on it.
Like her brother, Camille ran around the Volleydome as a kid. By the end of high school, Camille had so many volleyball scholarships she didn’t know what to do with them. She eventually decided on Oregon State University, where she became an all-star and top 10 hitter in the conference.
After graduating, Camille followed her brother to the beach volleyball scene, where she’s already breaking ranks.
It remains to be seen which of the Canuck Club kids will have the greatest legacy. Wherever they go in their volleyball careers, Ben, Graham and Camille share roots in the Volleydome. The Farley Dome is proud to have the Saxton and Volleydome family a part of our own.