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Cochrane athlete having major volleyball success south of the border

McLellan, a sophomore outside hitter, was named Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) Men's Volleyball Student-Athlete of the Week, for three weeks in March.

Cochrane High School graduate and former Athlete of the Year Josh McLellan is killing it south of the border at an Illinois university.

McLellan, a sophomore outside hitter, was recently named Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) Men's Volleyball Student-Athlete of the Week for three consecutive week in a row in March.

He put up a huge week in four contests at the Cal-Lu-Fornia Invitational at California Lutheran University recently. Over four matches and 16 sets played, he posted 75 kills, good for 4.69 per set.

In a five set win over Baldwin Wallace, he posted 27 kills and hit .415 and in a four set win over Rivier he had 22 kills and hit .356. McLellan had double digit kills in all four matches and added 1.19 digs per set.

McLellan played volleyball and basketball for Cochrane High School, graduating in 2020, when he was named overall Athlete of the Year – no mean feat at a school sometimes thought of as a football school.

He was Rockyview School Division Senior Varsity Most Valuable Player for both volleyball and basketball that year.  His team won zones and played at provincials for volleyball. In basketball they were ranked top 10 all year and then the zone championship and provincials were cancelled due to COVID.

He played volleyball for a couple years at the University of Calgary, then transferred this year to play for Division 3 Aurora, Illinois after turning down a Division 1 offer at Grand Canyon University (GCU) in Arizona.

McLellan told The Eagle he ultimately chose volleyball over basketball because he felt it offered more of a true team approach.

“The thing I love about volleyball the most is I feel the team chemistry, compared to basketball, is very different,” he said. “Volleyball is a real team sport.” 

In basketball, individuals can sometimes go off on tangents, playing their own game, somewhat separated from the team. In volleyball, he said, that’s just not possible.

After seeing him in action at a volleyball camp at GCU, Aurora volleyball coach Dan Ames pursued McLellan, eventually persuading him to come to Illinois.

He is on an academic scholarship at Aurora, which is about a 50-minute drive from Chicago.

McLellan graduates with his education degree in 2026 and hopes to become a high school math teacher at some point.

Between now and then, he hopes to go to Europe to play professional volleyball.

Once upon a time, the plan was to maybe play basketball with his brother in university, but a number of things, including COVID, threw a wrench into those plans.

Playing for Aurora, he has been named conference player of the week three times, quite an accomplishment in a 14-team conference.

McLellan is ranked nationally as one of the top 10 players (number seven actually) for every player in the USA in his division.  His team won some big games at the toughest men’s tourney in California a few weeks ago.

The Spartans are currently tied for first place in the conference going into the playoffs the following week.

“There’ll be a lot of pressure, but I think we’ll be able to pull through,” McLellan said.


Howard May

About the Author: Howard May

Howard was a journalist with the Calgary Herald and with the Abbotsford Times in BC, where he won a BC/Yukon Community Newspaper Association award for best outdoor writing.
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