Home Court Advantage is a recurring series that focuses on the court, environment and playing conditions on men's and women's volleyball courts around the country. In this, the first post of the series, we will be focusing on Seneca College's gymnasium.
The men's and women's volleyball teams for Seneca College practice and play on the school's Newnham Campus, located in Northern Toronto near Finch Ave East and HWY 404. While the school does have six campuses and four "community campuses", Newnham is the main campus and hosts the primary athletics facilities.
The Sting homecourt is your typical college gym. The floor layout gives players enough room on either side of net for saving shanked passes as well as enough room behind the service line for jump serves. After watching (or playing in) both men's and women's games at college and high school level of play in this gym, I don't recall anyone coming close to using all the space given to them for their serve.
The ceiling height in the Newnham gym is average. Approximiately 50 feet high, it isn't the best height for volleyball, but it isn't the worst either (*cough* Ryerson). We were live from the OCAA Men's Volleyball Championship this year, and very few balls went into the ceilng during that tournament. Because it is your typical college gym, other sports call this their home as well. Many lines are painted on the court (basketball and badminton etc.) but these play little role in a volleyball match as the volleyball lines are a nice dark grey that contrast well with the hardwood floor. Raised basketball nets above position 6 on either side of the court do decrease the ceiling's height and come into play for serve receive and passing, but that is the case at most school gymnasiums.
There are two ways one can spectate a home game from Seneca, in person or online. Tickets are cheap and when setup for a volleyball game, the gym seats about 650. The event staff run contests in timeouts and in between sets and actually have a nice variety. They also give away fairly significant prizes. It isn't as nice as the trip for two to Paris that you can win at Queen's Gaels games, but I did win an iPod dock last time I was at Seneca.
Where Seneca really shines with their presentation is the online streaming. Seneca's live streams of the 2011 OCAA Men's Volleyball Championship were the best live streamed volleyball content coming out of Canada that I've ever seen. They had three cameras up on scaffolding as well as a fourth camera on the ground for lower angles and in game interviews. They had play-by-play and colour commentary for each point of every game and went to the court hosts with that fourth camera to interview coaches inbetween sets and after games. They even had a tv showing the live stream near the concession stand so that you never had to miss a point. The live video was paired with lower third and bracket graphics that easily visualized scores and tournament seedings. As a producer of Canadian online volleyball content, it makes me very happy to see schools, like Seneca, investing heavily in online streaming.
In Canada, men's and women's volleyball seasons run in the fall and winter semesters. What this means is that every time I have been to Seneca for volleyball, I hadn't noticed most of their great facilities. The Sting have access to a gym, six tennis courts, a full size ice hockey rink, soccer field, baseball diamond and two beach volleyball courts.
That's right, beach volleyball courts. It will be interesting to see now that the NCAA is begining a sand volleyball program, if Canada will follow suit. If so, Seneca already has an area for training where other schools don't. Sure, from the looks of it, they are your typical recreational courts. The fact that they are the only school I know of in the province to provide beach volleyball as an option to their students is definitely a plus.
Seneca's home court is your average college or university setup. While the indoor court is nothing to write home about, their lead in the online streaming department definitely gives them some points. It is easily accessible by car or public transit making it one of the go to destinations for watching live indoor volleyball in the city of Toronto.