As the last of 41 camp attendees to meet with junior national coach Gino Brousseau and senior national head coach Glenn Hoag, Risso says that the prominent feeling was that of relief after being told on Thursday that he had been chosen out of six liberos at the tryout to join the Canadian national junior team.
For Risso, the accomplishment of making the Canadian national U21 squad is both an impressive addition to a growing list, and the redemption of his being cut from the U18 team three years ago.
After earning the number one libero spot on the Heat depth chart in his freshman season, Risso went on to earn Rookie of the Year honours at UBC Okanagan's annual athletic awards ceremony. He also earned a spot on the Canada West All-Rookie team in his first season of his career at the libero position.
As a member of the junior national team, Risso will compete in the U21 NORCECA Continental Championship, July 5-10. Until then, he will continue to train with the team in Gatineau, Quebec.
The pool play portion of the championships has Canada facing off against Guatemala at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 5.
Group B Schedule [Tournament Schedule PDF]
- Canada vs Guatemala 5-Jul | 20:00 (ET)
- Canada vs Trinidad & Tobago 6-Jul | 20:00 (ET)
- Canada vs Cuba 7-Jul | 20:00 (ET)
In looking back on the process, Risso speaks to both his own drive, and that of everyone who has helped him prepare. "It was a group effort," he said in an interview with Lorne White of Kelowna Now after being given the good news. "After the initial excitement, I was grateful for making the team because of all the people who encouraged and helped me get here . . . Of course my family has been unbelievably supportive all the way through and my teammates and former teammates -- especially during the past three weeks of training -- have really stepped up."
For his part, Risso seems to be taking the process as both a challenge and an opportunity. Now that he has made the team, he is set to get the most out of the experience.
It's a really big part of the process for me and the next step in what I really want to accomplish in volleyball," he said. He is evidently aware of how much this summer can help him as an athlete, he added, "Training for a month at the highest level with players my age, I couldn't ask for any more than that."
Risso will be back on campus in September and will be on the court for the Heat on October 28 in their Canada West home opener versus the Brandon Bobcats. Full Heat Schedule