By Ottawa Sportspage, For École secondaire publique Louis-Riel
To say it’s bred in the bone is an understatement when it comes to Maxime St-Denis. The Louis-Riel Rebelles’ star setter has quite literally lived a life fostered by elite volleyball players.
Born to beach volleyball partners, Maxime has followed in the footsteps of not only his parents, François and Tammy, but also his older brother and past Ontario volleyball MVP Alexandre, a 2017 Louis-Riel grad.
The youngest of the St-Denis clan remembers that even before he played himself, he’d watch the high school teams coached by his father, who is now a Team Canada assistant coach during his summertime break from teaching/coaching at Louis-Riel.
“My dad was the one who inspired me to play,” underlines St-Denis, who jumped in to play himself at age 7. “Once I started playing, I saw that I loved it.”
At 11, he joined the club where François coached, the Ottawa Mavericks, and soon began piling up accolades. Often hand-in-hand with the full St-Denis lineup (Maxime setting to Alexandre, François coaching and Tammy managing), Maxime’s list of championships includes OFSAA high school and provincial club titles, and a 2017 Canada Summer Games gold medal with Team Ontario.
The Grade 12 sports-études student says that being a part of the specialized sports program at Louis-Riel has played a big role in those successes.
“Let’s say you’re not so crisp at passing, at sports-études I can work on it a bit and be ready for my game or my practice at night,” explains Maxime. “It’s kind of like getting extra reps.”
Another big benefit, he adds, is personalized training from the program’s strength coach, Jean-Robert Léger, which enables him to maintain his fitness and allow him to stay on the court as much as possible.
And the academic setup to mix studies with high-performance sport has prepared Maxime for life as a student-athlete in university, he notes.
“When I’m travelling a lot, I have to make sure I do my schoolwork in the car,” the 17-year-old outlines. “While most people would just sleep or be on their phone and talk, I use my time efficiently, which I’ll have to do in university.”
Maxime is also eyeing future national team opportunities alongside varsity volleyball, and may well join Alexandre at a top CÉGEP volleyball program before beginning his varsity career in the Quebec university conference.
“We’re really close together, we understand each other really well, and it’s really fun,” Maxime says of his relationship with his older brother. “It’s really, really special to do it as a family.”