Jared Stokes is coming off a stellar year of volleyball with the Astros of Pearson Academy, while former Phoenix Academy Raider Blair Parsons has been a force in the St. John's City League.
Both men are used to competing in high-level matches, and both are adjusting to the level of competition they'll be facing during the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season.
For Stokes, competing against top level teams like the Dalhousie University Tigers and University of New Brunswick Reds is quite the jump from competing in 3A provincials.
"3A volleyball doesn't compare to this," said Stokes. "It's just so much faster, just a completely different style of volleyball."
Unlike Stokes, it took Parsons a few years before deciding he wanted to compete at the varsity level.
He left Phoenix Academy to attend Memorial University, and although he thought about competing for a roster spot then, decided to hold out until he became more familiar with school and the workload that came with it.
"I didn't know what the workload was going to be like when I first went to MUN, so I figured I would just play City League once a week," said Parsons. "Now, I know what I'm getting myself into in terms of school, so I figured I'd try it out. It's been going pretty well."
“I’m supporting the guys that supported me throughout high school…it’s a big thing.” - Jared Stokes
MUN's team was picked in September, and is now preparing for its season-opener, an away series against the Tigers, Nov. 19-20.
Stokes attended a MUN volleyball camp late last year while he was still in high school, and he used the opportunity to get to know the head coach and familiarize himself with the university's volleyball program.
After going through that experience, Stokes had it in his mind then that he wanted to become a Sea-Hawk.
"I had some expectations...I'm familiar with the coach and whatnot," said Stokes. "It's a big thing. I was pretty enthusiastic about it."
As for Parsons, he's going into his first varsity season with a lot of hype behind him. He's been a force at past Molson Senior Volleyball Provincial Championships, and has drawn accolades from Deon Goulding, who coaches the Gander Collegiate Concordes.
"He was trying to get me to come to play volleyball in Gander when I was in Grade 8 or 9," said Parsons with a laugh. "He was after me all throughout high school to get me to come to Gander to play."