The memory is still fresh in his head. It is what provided him with the drive to get through the offseason tournaments, extra hours in the gym, conditioning and the countless extra reps in the weight room.

Now that the season is here, Fred Gard is determined to make sure 2012 does not end like 2011.

For Gard, a York Suburban senior, he will not soon forget the District 3 playoffs last year in which the Trojans fell three points short of making a trip to the PIAA Class AA boys' volleyball tournament. To make it more painful, the loss came at the hands of YAIAA-rival Dover.

"It left a very sour taste in our mouth," Gard said. "We have really worked hard in the offseason.

Exeter’s Matt Seifert spikes past the triple attempted block of York Suburban players, from left: Ted Hinnenkamp, Jaryd Eshler and Fred Gard during
Exeter's Matt Seifert spikes past the triple attempted block of York Suburban players, from left: Ted Hinnenkamp, Jaryd Eshler and Fred Gard during early round play of the Black Knight Joust Volleyball Invitational last year in Hempfield. (GAMETIMEPA -- FILE)
We had extra practices, we hit the weight room, we did everything we could do to get better."

For Gard, the journey began as a freshman when he was called up to varsity and helped lead the Trojans to a state tournament appearance.

"There was so much pressure on us to do well that year," Gard said. "All of the seniors really wanted to make states, and we had one game to decide if we would. That moment was crazy."

Now, three years later, Gard is that senior. This is his time. This is his chance. It is now or never, but what is the script, how will it end?

"Obviously, we would be in Penn State at the state finals," Gard said how he would write the script. "If it was against Dover, that would just be a crazy game."

They said it

YAIAA boys' volleyball coaches took the time to answer some questions in our spring sports questionnaire. The following are a few of their outlooks on the upcoming season:

  • "Blocking (is the biggest challenge). Besides one or two players, our team is not a tall team. We probably were in the bottom half of the league in total blocks last year. We will have to really work in practice." - Chris Kennedy, Dover
  • "We have eight seniors with one of them having significant and valuable varsity experience. Our challenge will be adjusting to the speed of the varsity game over many years playing at the JV level." - Bill Hahn, Spring Grove
  • As the only four-year starter on the Trojans, Gard brings leadership, not just by his ability to command a huddle but also by his work ethic.

    "Fred leads by example," York Suburban coach Jamie Evans said. "He puts max effort into every drill and every play. The guys feed off of it."

    Said Gard: "I just try to keep the energy up and make sure that everyone is focused all the time. Last year, we had a lot of juniors that had JV experience but no varsity experience, so it was letting them know that this is a totally different level than JV."

    With only having to replace two seniors from last season's team, Gard and his teammates have something that not many teams have: chemistry.

    "Some other teams are getting to new setters and hitters and everyone is trying to learn each other," Gard said. "We have all been playing together on club and in other tournaments for at least two years now. We know, if the ball is going between two of us, who is going to get it. We know who is going to close the block and who is going to get the short ball.

    "We have been playing three to four times a week throughout the offseason," he said. "Together we are going to do everything we can to make this season something special."

    It is unknown what position Gard will play this season. For Evans, though, that is a good problem to have.

    "His freshman and sophomore years he was our defensive specialist, last year he was an outside hitter," he said of Gard. "This year, I am not sure how we will use him. We have a lot of options with returning so much experience."

    More spring sports previews:

    Cover story: For many girls' athletes, spring is just a part of it

    Baseball: West York catalyst Toomey still thinking diamonds

    Softball: York County Tech looking to take back Division IV with McLane

    Boys' track and field: William Penn's Posey aiming farther

    Girls' track and field: Janneh's New Oxford career almost didn't happen

    Boys' lacrosse: Marsher, Norris take lead for Susquehannock

    Girls' lacrosse: South Western's Szparaga determined to play

    Boys' tennis: For South Western's Meyer, it's a family thing

    Girls' soccer: Weikert helps Gettysburg take the offensive

    How does York County make net gains?