Some people put their heart into the things they love.
Others give everything they have.
Local volleyball coach and builder Bruce Andrews has given an amazing 43 years – an entire lifetime – to the sport he loves, and the effect he’s had on volleyball in the central region is absolutely immense.
And his contributions have certainly not gone unnoticed. Last weekend, Andrews was given an honour shared by a precious few; he was inducted in the Newfoundland and Volleyball Hall of Fame.
When a person’s career as a coach, mentor, and builder has spanned over four decades, summarizing their achievements, accolades, and contributions is no easy feat.
“Bruce’s name has been synonymous with volleyball ever since I can remember, and I don’t think there’s a banner around Bruce has not won as a coach,” said friend and fellow volleyball coach Dave Jewer.
Jewer has known Andrews for as long as he’s been involved with the sport, and made the decision to nominate him for induction last year.
“I can’t think of a single person more deserving than Bruce Andrews,” said Jewer.
Andrews, a retired teacher, has been involved with volleyball since he was in high school, and has coached all over the island. He’s coached girls teams and boys teams, high school and junior high. He moved to Grand Falls-Windsor several decades ago and has been a volleyball coach, advocate, and builder ever since. He started a mini-volleyball program for young players, and has had teams take place in dozens of tournaments across Newfoundland and Labrador and as far away as Toronto. The hours he has put into the sport are innumerable.
With such a hefty background, one would expect Andrews wouldn’t be surprised in learning he’d joined the ranks of the great ones.
But the modest, soft-spoken Andrews said it still hasn’t sunk in yet.
Appropriately, Andrews found out about the induction last month, only a couple of days before he took his Exploits Valley Intermediate Grade 8 girls’ team halfway across the country to compete at the Volleyball Canada Nationals in Toronto.
“It caught me off guard, I had other things on my mind at the time,” said Andrews. “Everything has happened so quickly.”
Andrews said he’s aware of how much he’s put into the sport, but is quick to thank the people who have helped.
“You don’t get inducted into the hall of fame without an awful lot of help along the way,” he said, immediately rhyming a long list of the many mentors, friends, colleagues, family members, and others, whom he said he feels he shares his newfound honour with.
A wonderful thing
Although Andrews said being inducted into the hall of fame is a source of immense pride, what makes it all worthwhile for him is not the recognition, the awards, the trophies, the medals, or the banners.
It’s seeing the literally hundreds of kids and young adults he’s taken under his wing that continue to love and play the sport years later.
“A big source of pride for me is many of the players I’ve coached over the years continue to play today, they just didn’t play in high school and then quit,” he said.
“Every year I make a point to go see the senior provincial tournament and see whose still playing.”
Andrews said another aspect of coaching he holds close to his heart is getting the opportunity over the years to coach both his son and daughter as well as some of his nieces and nephews.
“In the mini-volleyball program I’m still coaching relatives, one of my cousin’s daughters is playing and one of my nephew’s daughters is playing,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful thing.”
Jewer said one of the things that stood out to him about Andrews that prompted him to make the nomination is his continuing dedication to making sure volleyball has a viable future in central Newfoundland.
“The last five or six years, one of Bruce’s priorities has been getting other coaches in place, because he’s so worried about what will happen when he’s not around. He’s always encouraging people to get involved and stay involved,” said Jewer.
And if Jewer’s own heavy involvement in volleyball is any indication, his efforts have been a success.
“If it wasn’t for Bruce I don’t know I’d be doing as much as I’m doing now,” he said. “I can’t thank him enough.”
Passing the torch
Even though his love for the game has remained constant, even hall-of-famers need to know when it’s time to pass the torch.
Andrews announced in his interview with the Advertiser that the time has come for him.
“I’ve been in the game for 43 years, and I’ve reached a stage where I just don’t have the energy to do that anymore,” he said. “Fatigue has hit me, and father time told me it’s been long enough…I’m officially done with competitive coaching.”
Andrews said he came to the decision after talking with his family, close friends, and counterparts within the sport. He said he’ll continue being involved with the mini-volleyball program, but no longer has the energy for all that is required of competitive coaching.
Andrews recalled a conversation he had with his friend, former coach, and now fellow hall-of-famer, the late Lorne Wooldridge.
“I said ‘Lorne, how will I know when it’s time to give up?’ He said ‘you’ll know, one day it will hit you that you just can’t do it anymore.’”
Although his coaching career has come to an end, the undeniable contribution Andrews has made to the sport, and the many young men and woman who have found love in it through his mentorship will be felt for years to come.
“I’ve given a lot, I’m aware of that,” he said. “But regrets? Nope. Don’t have any regrets.”