From pickup games in the early evening to the Paralympics. Not too bad for the latest inductee to the Canadian Volleyball Hall of Fame.
“I was brought into the hall fame as a builder because I helped to create a disabled volleyball program in Canada,” says Lawrence Flynn, U of T Tri-Campus Men’s Volleyball coach.
The Paralympic silver-medalist began his volleyball career in 1988 playing with a group of colleagues after work at a gym on Bayview Ave. From there, his colleagues and teammates encouraged him to try out for the national team.
“Somebody said ‘there is a tryout for the national team at Variety Village, do you want to do it with us?’ and I said, ‘yes, sure,’” Flynn says.
Not long after, he was on his way to his first international volleyball tournament, just two weeks after his first son Chris was born. From there he began the work that would be the reason for his induction into the Hall of Fame, almost 30 years later.
He first started volunteering on the Ontario Amputee Sports Association (OASA) and the Canadian Amputee Sports Association (CASA). In 1996 Sports Canada combined the CASA volleyball program with Volleyball Canada to create a new sport committee at VC, Flynn, who was still playing and was vice president of CASA at the time, volunteered.
“Seeing as at the time I was also playing volleyball, I called Volleyball Canada, and said ‘okay, let’s do this’ and that’s how it started,” he says.
His work with the organizations did not stop when he travelled to Sydney in 2000 for the Paralympics, but it was after the Games he decided to change the course of his volleyball career.
“I finished playing in 2000 at Sydney, from there I started coaching” Flynn says.
He started coaching his children Chris and Tim. Chris a U of T Scarborough alum and Tim coaches the UTSC Women's Tri-Campus volleyball team. In 2001and for 12 years Flynn coached at Durham Attack, taking a break to work on the Para Pan Am Sitting Volleyball competition right here at UTSC, afterwards returning to coaching the Tri campus team.
“You get satisfaction working with a group of various athletes and helping them to accomplish their goals,” Flynn says of his reason to return to coaching. “It’s like guiding, you are enabling the athletes to realize their own potential.”
Though he enjoys coaching, Flynn still misses some aspects of playing volleyball, not so much the rigorous training, but the friendships he made.
“I miss the camaraderie of the team. The Paralympic team members are still very good friends, and I am in touch with many of them regularly. But I definitely don’t miss the pain,” Flynn joked.