Life on the volleyball court is pretty good these days for Cameron Chadwick.
The 18-year-old capped off another big high school season in late November by leading the St. Peter's Catholic Secondary School Panthers senior boys to a bronze medal at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) Boys 'AAA' Volleyball Championships.
Chadwick also recently announced his commitment to sport the maroon this fall as a member of the McMaster Marauders men's volleyball squad and, if that isn't impressive enough, he's heading to Poland this March Break with the Ontario Elite boys 18 and under (18U) team for an exhibition tour.
But for all the success he's enjoyed on the court, Chadwick believes it took him getting knocked down to arrive where he is today.
"I didn't really have a passion for (volleyball) until probably 16U, that was the first year I tried out for Team Ontario," he explained. "I got cut that year, but that really pushed me to do better."
It's that first rejection that has helped shape him as a player and given Chadwick what he calls his two biggest strengths on the court, attitude and determination.
"I guess just because I've had a lot of experience," he said. "When I got cut for 16U, I was devastated for a week and I didn't go out much and didn't really do anything. It really pushed me to get better after that. I started reaching out to other people and seeing how I could get extra training.
"Now I use that (motivation) anywhere. Anytime I hit a road block I push through it, which is one of my biggest strengths."
It's that competitive streak that certainly led to him being recruited by the Marauders. While he's following in the steps of his father, Robin, who played at the Hamilton school himself some years ago, Chadwick admitted he actually first saw his university career holding court in Kingston.
"For a really long time actually, I was really headstrong about going to Queen's (University)," he said. "I have a couple of buddies that go there and when I took the tour it was a really nice school."
That changed when he talked to the coaching staff at Hamilton's McMaster and was offered a tour there.
"Everything was really laid out and then when I actually got to see the campus it was just beautiful and better than Queen's, in my opinion," said Chadwick, who will be looking to study engineering there. "Then I got to see their practices and how the volleyball team works and it really was something else. They treat them like a professional team the way they do things. The school appreciates volleyball a lot.
"They have a decent amount of funding and it allows them to have a lot of stuff, like Nike sponsorships and they have all Nike gear," he added. "They got three different courts to practice on at once and have new technology like serving machines. It was really professional."
First up for Chadwick, though, will be the trip to Poland with Team Ontario over the March Break (March 14-20). He's looking forward to training with Poland's Youth National Team.
"We get to watch two professional games over there and will play three different teams, I'm pretty sure," said Chadwick, whose age group will be the oldest heading over. "They're like provincial teams or youth national teams."
He's hoping it's similar to his trip to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this past summer with Team Ontario Black when they got to play against older competition and against players who were being selected for the U.S. Junior National Team.
"There was a lot higher competition and I'm hoping it's going to be the same in Poland," Chadwick explained of the trip he said had a huge impact on him. "I always love having a challenge, so I'm really hoping they're better and they're going to push everyone that comes."
With his competitive streak, Chadwick loves to push his teammates and be pushed by them. He got that practising and playing with St. Peter's and believes he's a better player for it.
"High school gave me a lot of opportunity to practice, almost more than I wanted to because I was really busy with club volleyball and school volleyball," said Chadwick, who's a member of the Aurora Storm Volleyball Club. "All my teammates were great, they all pushed me. They weren't as experienced as I was, but they worked their butts off.
"It was a team effort, everybody pushed each other. It really helped me too."
After his trip to Poland, next on the calendar for Chadwick will be provincials and nationals with his Aurora club team. While there's no Team Ontario this summer, he is focused on making the cut with the Youth National Team.
"There's a lot of competition and I'm really going to have to work hard for it," Chadwick said. "That's the next thing for me before university."
It's been quite a ride so far and Chadwick is thankful for those who have helped along the way. Growing up with two parents who loved the sport helped get things rolling and he remains grateful to his father who has been there every step of the way.
"He still is a big reason why I play volleyball," Chadwick said. "He coached my team at a younger age for two years and he kind of stepped away because he felt I needed other points of view. Anytime I'm struggling or anytime I'm wondering anything and need to ask a question, he's always the one I turn to first for volleyball."