Mike Margarit had a passion, a dream, of establishing an elite female youth volleyball club in Greater Sudbury.
That dream just needed a little test drive.
More than a decade ago, Margarit joined forces with Eric Laberge to create the Azzuri Volleyball Club. This initial foray lasted only three years before being derailed by a volunteer man-power base simply stretched too thin.
"The one promise I made to myself is that if I ever got it started again, I was going to do it radically different and make sure to keep the infrastructure right, in terms of human resources and finances," Margarit said.
A familiar face at the side of ultra-successful Cambrian women's volleyball coach Dale Beausoleil since before the turn of the millennium, Margarit reloaded in 2005.
The Northern Chill Volleyball Club hit the court that year with three youth teams, as well as a women's squad comprised primarily of graduates of the Golden Shield OCAA program.
Eight years later, it is still going strong and the Chill family is a mainstay within the Sudbury sports scene, providing a valuable training ground for future post-secondary athletes and garnering plenty of hardware along the way.
"In those early years, we had some parents really step up," Margarit said. "We've been really fortunate that we have had a lot of parents that are here for the right reasons."
Right out of the gate, Margarit and those with whom he surrounded himself understood if the club was to reach the heights to which they aspired, the sport of volleyball could only be part of the equation.
"We bill ourselves as an elite volleyball club, but I think we also try to provide a certain social and moral growth and development for the athletes," Margarit said. "We try to provide a positive life experience, highlighted by a volleyball experience."
Although attaining perfection is a lofty goal to be sure, the rate of return for Chill teams, and for the young women under the Northern Chill banner, would suggest Margarit and his team are doing many things right.
And while no one is suggesting “winning at all costs” be adopted as the club mantra, this is still competitive volleyball on a provincial scale.
"I think we are always going to be results-based to a certain degree," Margarit said.
"That's just the nature of sport. I don't know that we are necessarily more geared to the results now, but there's a greater expectation."
Indeed, the Northern Chill have grown over the past eight years, both on and off the court.
"The roll out to the season, administratively, is so much easier now, just simply because we have been through the routine," Margarit said. "Each year, you have to treat it as a learning experience.
"I think we've done a pretty good job of improving the club every year."
For the past few years, the Chill has fielded teams in every age classification from U14 to U18, with each team participating in approximately three Ontario Volleyball Association tournaments in addition to provincials.
Stagnation is not an option either. There are far too many new mountains to scale and new lands to conquer.
"We would like to definitely operate a U13 team on a consistent basis," Margarit said.
And there are whispers almost annually of expanding the Chill network to include a boys component. The work for the likes of Margarit, Craig Thomson, Eric Bacon, Joanna Castonguay and countless others is not yet done.
Yet the vision, as Margarit first imagined it, is pretty darn close to concrete. More than enough to keep him happy for the time being.