First-year Western Mustangs volleyballer Jackson Bere was one of seven athletes named to the U Sports All-Rookie team for the 2018-19 season. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic year for this up-and-coming Mustang.
Prior to being picked for the U Sports All-Rookie team, Bere was named to the Ontario University Athletics All-Rookie squad. He was also recognized as OUA West Division Rookie of the Year and an OUA West Division First Team All-Star. Needless to say, it was a highly decorated and successful rookie season for Bere.
When asked to describe his season in one word, Bere said, “Amazing. I had a great supporting cast of guys who helped me do my thing.”
Bere was strong throughout the entire season and his statistics speak for themselves. He had a striking hitting percentage of .421, which led the OUA, and he averaged 2.22 kills per set. While Bere would certainly indicate attacking as the strongest area of his game, his versatility cannot be understated. He was ranked fifth in the OUA for total blocks during the season.
Though the aforementioned statistics are individual, Bere underscored the importance of his teammates.
“It was great having a veteran setter," said Bere on his on-court chemistry with Matt Hooker. "It is a lot easier for me to hit when I am being set up by one of the best setters in the league.”
Bere attributes much of the team's success to the strong dynamic it has off the court
“We are just amazing friends,” said Bere. “We hang out on the court, off the court. Practice is competitive, but we're always pushing each other to try and make everyone better.”
As a whole, the team had a strong season filled with progress and success. “We had some big home wins against strong teams like [the] McMaster [Marauders] and [the] Windsor [Lancers],” explained Bere. “It was all good up until the quarterfinals and the tough loss against the University of Toronto.”
In the OUA quarterfinals, the Mustangs played the Toronto Varsity Blues, and in a hard-fought battle, lost 3–2. Bere attributed the unexpected momentum from the Varsity Blues, as well as a loss of focus on the part of the Mustangs, as the deciding factors in the match.
Nevertheless, Bere remains highly motivated to compete for bigger and better things next season.
“We have a great group of guys back, and we will be highly competitive,” said Bere. “While we are losing two big pieces, if we push, I know that victory is still ours for the taking.”
While Bere certainly has big hopes for the Mustangs program moving forward, he also has his eyes set on representing Canada in international competition.
In the more proximate future, Bere is looking to make the Canadian junior national team this summer. Last year, he was a key player on the under-18 Canadian national team. With that experience, alongside the momentum he has gained from his highly successful rookie season with Western, his chances are looking good.
If this season is indicative of Bere’s future with the sport, only good things can be expected.