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Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Schachter, Hatch win beach volleyball championship

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Sam Schachter

TORONTO — Sam Schachter’s season didn’t start out so well, but it sure ended with a bang.

Schachter, 22, along with partner Maverick Hatch, were recently crowned Canadian champions at the Volleyball Canada Beach Nationals in Vancouver.

Schachter, of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Hatch of Comox, B.C. edged Chaim Schalk of Red Deer, Alta., and Matt Zbyszewski of Toronto 19-21, 21-16 and 18-16 in the championship match.

“It felt pretty great,” Schachter said afterward. “It was the national championship. It’s good to have on the resumé. It’s good to know you can get to that level.”

It’s pretty apparent Schachter has been competing at the elite level for some time now. At 18, he was a national junior champion. A couple of years later, he teamed with Garrett May to win the under-21 world beach volleyball championships in Analya, Turkey – a feat never before accomplished by any Canadian team. In 2010, he was voted junior athlete of the year at the Canadian Sports Awards, and in 2011, he and Hatch finished second at the Canadian nationals.

They’ve been playing well as of late, but the pair were eliminated from Olympic qualification early in the season. “We didn’t have a great start,” Schachter acknowledged. Still, they entered the nationals seeded number 3, but got a scare in their third game – they lost in three sets – that put them on the “loser’s side” in the double elimination event.

In the next game, they were pushed hard by Daniel Dearing and Schachter’s former partner, Garrett May, but prevailed 25-23 and 21-19. They swept the semis in two games and split the first two games in the championship series. “We were up in the third set. We were winning and had a couple of match points, but we didn’t close,” he said. “We were up and then Maverick scored the winning serve.”

Back in 2008, volleyball maven George Shermer, who coached Schachter as a youngster, predicted great things from his former protégé. “He’s got the right size, tremendous athletic abilities, and he comes from a very good family background. He’s got all the tools to succeed.”

With the Canadian nationals behind him, Schachter has turned his attention to his education. He’s one year away from a degree in communications at Wilfred Laurier University. At the same time, he’s continuing to train with the national team at The Hangar in Downsview Park in Toronto.

Ultimately, his goal is to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

“The end game is always working for the Olympics,” he said. “Everything is geared for the Olympics.”

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