For the love of the game



Only 18 months after arriving in Queenstown, Ty Evans is helping to transform the resort’s volleyball scene.

The United States native came to New Zealand for a six-week holiday with his wife and two sons just before last year’s Covid lockdown, as part of a world tour, and ended up getting ‘‘trapped’’ in the resort.

An indoor and beach volleyball player since high school days, he started playing as a substitute on local social teams.







His ability, as well as his high-level coaching and refereeing experience in the US and Luxembourg, means he’s been willingly sucked into the resort’s volleyball community.

After deciding to settle in the resort a year ago, he and fellow enthusiast Jeremias Romero began talking about the resort’s need for a better structure for the sport in the resort,  particularly for adult players, Evans says.

Building on the work of Ayako Fukutake, who runs a drop-in volleyball session at the Shotover Primary School hall on Sundays, they set up an informal volleyball club called Collabor8.

Early this year, Collabor8 approached Invercargill-based Volley South, which has social teams in the resort and organises a junior comp at the Events Centre, about forming a Queenstown club under its umbrella.

But they were told it wasn’t possible because its constitution doesn’t allow more than one club in the region.

Frustrated by inertia, and with mediation failing to resolve the issue, Collabor8 employed a lawyer to make a formal submission to Volleyball New Zealand asking for Volley South to
change its constitution.

After a few months of wrangling, Volley South’s agreed.

Evans says the next step will be for Collabor8 to become an incorporated society, affiliated to Volley South, hope fully by early next year.

‘‘Really it’s about being self-governed and self-organised so we can do what’s best for our membership.

‘‘As long as we can operate and the adults can continue to do it their way — we feel like we’re in control of our destiny — then we’re happy.’’

As well as the Sunday night social volleyball at the Shotover Primary School hall where he started playing, he would like to see Collabor8’s activities expand at the Events Centre, particularly for higher-level men’s and women’s teams.

He also hopes to see similar clubs pop up in neighbouring towns like Wānaka and Cromwell.

He reckons there are at least 100 active players in the resort, including Wakatipu High School players.

‘‘It’s quickly grown into quite a nice-sized volleyball community.’’