Road to tokyo
A powerful, important initiative begins at bridging the gap between the youth teams across country and propelling the Women’s National Team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. If you want to be a part of this journey, keep reading…
This 2018 summer with the National Team was a tough one for me personally; a lot of injuries and a lot of daily battles. Before traveling to Japan for World Championships I came back to the Sunshine Coast during our one day off to attend a “GRL POWER” event focusing on inspiring young females from all the elementary schools to be positive ambassadors in sport. My goal was to inspire them but it turns out they inspired me just the same.
Team Canada jetted off on our first European tour this past August to play in some exhibition matches against the Turkish, Bulgarian, and German National Teams. We were gone for a total of three weeks; one week in Istanbul, Turkey and two weeks in Rimini, Italy. A tough trip overall with a heavy training and match schedule, but we took major steps forward as a team and now have total confidence heading into World Championships in Japan.
This summer (2017) with our Canadian Women’s Volleyball Team we not only had some change, we had the most change ever deemed possible. Can I go as far as saying the most change that this program has ever seen at any given time? 2017 was the start of our four-year cycle, a quadrennial, or the first step in a four year-process to qualify for the (Tokyo 2020) Olympics.
It’s crazy to me that a professional season can seem like it’s crawling by when you're in the moment… but looking back it can be fully described in a few short sentences when you’re home. How was your season this year? “It was good – started off in Italy but switched to a German team in January due to some financial issues with the club. But yeah, it was good!”
Alrighty then – World Championships recap time! It’s a little delayed but I hope you pardon all my excuses which include running around Italy with my parents, getting settled into my new club in Urbino, and then coming back to Canada to get my visa (but more on that later). World Championships was again (and of course) a wonderful experience.
Ready, set… on the road again! Back to the extremely long trips to the other side of the pond. Sleep deprivation, questionable amounts of legroom, and multiple Starbucks while it’s still around: we’re getting used to it. After Grand Prix we had a few weeks off to regroup and refocus at home with family and friends.
And just like that, Grand Prix (and our break) is over! It seems like so long ago when we first touched down in Lima, Peru to start this crazy adventure. Leaving Winnipeg I didn’t feel totally prepared and I actually thought the past three weeks were going to be a lot more difficult than they actually were. I assumed the jet lag would be unbearable (and it was a few times… but flying from South America to Europe back to South America s
We definitely had a much more successful weekend in Leuven, Belgium. Many girls had only been to Europe once or twice before so everyone was pretty excited to mix up the travel itinerary. The flight from Lima to Madrid was as good as it could be; somehow Brittney and I scored the exit row and Byron smuggles us a few pills that we took without question. Bliss. We woke up in Madrid, had a quick layover, and then departed to Belgium.
Week 1 of Grand Prix complete. It wasn’t the result we were hoping for but we definitely gained a lot of valuable experience this past week. We arrived in Lima, Peru on (last) Monday evening and went straight to our hotel. The flight was going to be ok – it was only an 8hour flight (most of us have dealt with longer) but unfortunately no individual TV’s were provided. Good seats are always a dog fight to get, especially traveling with 14 VERY tall women, and an extremely tall coaching staff.
The Grand Prix takes place from July 21 - August 23, 2014. 28 countries from across the world will be competing in this year's Grand Prix, which is the first time this tournament will be featuring that many teams. During the Intercontinental Round, Pools A to O will play matches in three stand-along tournaments, for a total of 9 matches per team
This contract offer kind of fell into my lap randomly this past summer. I was on our much needed two week break in July after a hectic start to the summer with National Team and found myself down in Sandpoint with Rudy and his family. My previous team’s manager from Baku sent me a message asking if I would be interested. I signed the next day.
I can only laugh now. The amount of ridiculous stories I accumulate overseas while playing professionally or traveling for leisure is really quite remarkable. Good thing I have a blog and platform I can publicly complain about it and rope you into my misfortunes. For those of you that did know what was going on, I am out of the hospital now, hooray!
I have been in Athens, Greece for over three months now and wow - time flies (…most days!). I settled in pretty quickly, enjoying everything that Athens has to offer. My housing and club situation is great and my surroundings have vastly improved from last year. I am living across the hall from Canadian National teammate, Marisa Field, our neighbourhood is bustling with cute cafes and bars, and the city center is only fifteen minutes away.
Playing in Baku, Azerbaijan this season was nothing short of “an experience”. Regardless of where you play, what league you’re in, and what crazy things you’re seeing, you can be sure to always arrive home with experiences. But this season was something very different. An ‘ex-periiii-ence’; a lot of emphases and a lot of sighing on that one.
Throwback to the summer with Team Canada. It was the busiest, most tiring, and most exciting summer I have ever had with the team. In five months we traveled to Calgary, Cuba, Peru, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Toronto, Mexico – competing in an exhibition series, Champions Cup, Pan Am Cup (placing 5th - our best finish since 2004), Grand Prix, Pan Am Games, and then the NORCECA Championships.
Oh the adventures continue. It’s pretty clear that this life is the most unpredictable one I could have chosen for myself. One moment I’m waking up in Trasanni (aka Urbino, aka Italy) with little baby Zeus and the next day I am in Germany practicing with a brand new team. A casual three hundred and sixty degree change. Whaaaaaat????
Now that the first half of the season is completed, we can all take a little breather. Having organized my apartment, got used to our small town, and figured out how to drive standard in a foreign country, it finally feels like we're into the normal swing of things. Usually after the first few weeks you’ll understand how your new club functions but it’s always such an interesting time.
When thinking which two athletes to profile next Alina and Anna popped into my head. Alina and Anna. Anna and Alina. If you know these two souls, you know that they are always together.
With that being said, I wanted to start off 2018 blog-posts on the right foot so thought why not dedicate it to some of my teammates I had the pleasure of working along side last summer. I really wanted to take a moment (or a blog post) to write about some of these girls that you might not have seen on the court or the roster last summer, but still have a large effect and a large part on our Women’s National Team Program. They are the up-and-comers; the College Kids.
I am super happy to have the chance to write this post about Meg. A lot has happened since I was rooming with Megan at the end of last summer for Grand Prix. I remember that time in Argentina as being especially difficult for multiple reasons; we were just finishing up three weeks on the road, we were out in the boonies somewhere in Argentina, and Connor’s one-year anniversary was comin' around the corner.
After talking about my own life and experiences here Italy in my last blog, I decided it was time to write about my lovely teammates. This year, we really are spread from one end of the earth to the other, but that just makes things all the more exciting. I wanted to give everyone a mid-season, halfway-point-update on where the girls are and how their teams are doing thus far.
Since I started writing these player blogs I was excited to eventually get the opportunity to write Dana’s. Not only is she a wonderful teammate to me and everyone else, she is also one of my dearest of dear friends. For those of you who know Dana, you are well aware that she is one of the greatest human beings on this earth. The NICEST individual you will ever meet.
Oh Shanis. This girl is a champion through and through. I would say majority of you reading this, if not all, have already heard of Shanice – she’s been everywhere and wins EVERYTHING. I first really got to know her when she came to UBC... and it took about 42 seconds for us to become really good friends. She was a year behind me so I got to play with this girl for 4 years
Let me introduce you to one of our amazing liberos: Janie Guimond. I’ve been playing Team Canada with Janie for the past 7 years and we still have at least 2 more to go after this! We’ve been through so many team changes, transitions, ups and downs, and luckily I’ve had her by my side thru it all. I’ve been all over the world with this girl which is a pretty special thing. Janie really has an incredible zest for life; wherever she is in the world she wants to gain the best experiences
I really got to know Beeks in my 2012-2013 season in Potsdam, Germany. Luckily, her and Janie were playing on Kopenick SC, which was just on the other side of Berlin (Berlin was about a 40 minute train ride from Potsdam). I met them in Berlin very often on our days off to grab coffee (and a treat) and explore some major parts of the city. She’s definitely my Starbucks buddy and our obsession grew a bit more after spending so much time in the city; chilly Berlin days made us (me) take the leap from Grande’s to Venti’s….
ennifer is SUCH a pleasure to work with on the court. Her positive attitude and confidence in every one of her players really come out in the situations where we need it the most. I sometimes find myself "arguing" with her on the court on who’s fault the mistake was. I’m thinking that it was just a dumb swing and she’s blaming it on her setting; she’s always taking accountability for things she does (or doesn’t do) and is constantly working hard to be the best she can be.
I've been playing with Marisa for 8 years now. I had the privilege of playing my first 2 years of UBC with her where we broke the curse and brought home the CIS National Championship banner in consecutive years. Reese is usually found slamming down wicked blocks and crushing push-50's to the T.
My mom started coaching me in Volleyball when I was in about grade 3. My elementary school team was also the bulk of my highschool and club teams - so you could say we spent a few years together.
Mom coached us all the way through until my grade 12 club year when I decided to go into Vancouver and play for BCO. In grade 8, I made Team BC Summer Games with a broken arm (extra padding?!) which I guess to say started up my volleyball career. In grade 10 and 11, I played for the Junior National Team during the summers, where I experienced my first international competitions! In my grade 12 year, I played for Team BC because our Junior National Team had missed the Jr. World Championships Qualification by 1 place the year before, and therefore didn’t have a program that summer. After I finished with Team BC I went to train with the Team Canada A team for a few weeks. Luckily my Junior National team setter was with me so the transition wasn't as intimidating. Mia, a Japanese coach who was with the program for a number of years, was coaching at the time and all I remember was practicing in Lipsett Hall and sucking wind during touch-10 across 2 and a half courts. I was practicing with National Team studs such as Larissa Cundy, Annie Levesque, Emily Cordonier, and Steph Penner just to name a few. As frightening as it was for 18-year-old-me to be thrown in to practices with the A team, I learned a lot during those weeks of training and those players really demonstrated what it took and meant to be a part of Team Canada.
In 2008 after high school, I joined the powerful UBC Thunderbirds team where we ended up winning 5 straight National CIS Championships in a row. Before we won the first National Championship, the Tbirds hadn’t won since 1978, coincidentally when my mom was on the team. That was a pretty special moment; she had brought her gold medal to the match and was in the stands when we broke the “curse” in Moncton back in 2008. After my first year at UBC, I was playing on the Senior National Team and have competed with them every summer since then. I then began my professional adventure and career after I graduated from UBC in the fall of 2012; my first stint was in Potsdam, Germany in 2012-2013 and the following year (2013-2014) I played for a team in Istanbul, Turkey. My third year started in the land of espresso and pasta to take on the Italian Volleyball League with my new club team in Urbino (2014-2015) but unfortunately due to some financial problems with the club, I had to transfer to a strong club team in Germany to finish out my year (Rote Raben in Vilsbiburg). Since then I have also played in Baku, Azerbaijan (2015-2016), Athens, Greece (2016-2017) and this past year I took on Indonesia (2017-2018) where we became the Proliga Champions. This is currently my third quadrennial on The National Team which equates to 10 straight years on the senior team, minus one summer a few years ago that I took off to relax and coach Team BC. Team Canada cycles in quadrennials where the 3rd year is Olympic Qualifications and the last year is the Olympics. That’s my dream – it always has been. Now that I am an older, more experienced player, I understand how difficult it is to make it to the Olympics. However, the team we have right now has HUGE potential. The dream has never felt so close.
2008 – present: TEAM CANADA SENIOR NATIONAL VOLLEYBALL TEAM
2018 – 2019: PERU – USMP LIMA
2017 – 2018: Indonesia - Jakarta Pertamina Energy
2016 – 2017: GREECE - PANATHINAIKOS
2015 – 2016: AZERBAIJAN - AZERYOL BAKU
2015: GERMANY - VILSBIBURG ROTE RABEN
2014 – 2015: ITALY - URBINO
2013 – 2014: TURKEY – YEŞILYURT SPOR KULÜBÜ
2013: GERMANY – SC POTSDAM
2008 – 2012: MEMBER OF UBC WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM
5 times CIS National Champions
MVP – 2009 and 2012 CIS Championships
Canada West & CIS Player of the Year 2012
Winner of the Sandy Silver Volleyball Award and Ray Lepp Award (Volleyball BC – top female athlete)
1st team All-Star – 2009, 2011, 2012
2nd team All Star – 2010 – missing half the CIS regular season to compete in World Championships with Team Canada
3-time winner of UBC Team of the Year – 2008, 2009, 2010
Sport BC Team of the Year 2010
Academic All Canadian – 2010-11, 2011-2012
2012 UBC Graduating Female Athlete of the Year
2014: UBC 2009 - 2010 team inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame
MY TOURNAMENTS: (135 INTERNATIONAL MATCHES WITH THE SENIOR NATIONAL TEAM)
Canada vs. Peru Exhibition Series - Winnipeg, Canada
NORCECA 3rd Round World Championship Qualification Tournament – Caguas, Puerto Rico
XXV FISU World University Games – Belgrade, Serbia
IX Pan American Cup – Baja, Mexico
South American Tour – Peru & Argentina
Canada vs. Cuba Exhibition Series – Winnipeg, Canada
FIVB World Championships – Osaka, Japan
XVI Pan American Games – Guadalajara, Mexico
NORCECA Championships – Caguas, Puerto Rico
Canada vs. Netherlands Exhibition Series – Ontario, Canada
X Pan American Cup – Juarez, Mexico
Canada vs. Argentina Exhibition Series - Winnipeg & Brandon, Canada
Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament – Tijuana, Mexico
XI Pan American Cup – Juarez, Mexico
XII Pan American Cup – Iquitos, Peru
XXVII FISU World University Games – Kazan, Russia
NORCECA Continental Championships – Omaha, Nebraska
World Championship Qualifiers – Mississauga, Ontario
XIII Pan American Cup – Mexico City, Mexico
Grand Prix – Lima, Peru & Leuven, Belgium & Buenos Aires, Argentina
Slovenia Exhibition Series – Slovenia
XVII World Championships – Trieste, Italy
Puerto Rico Exhibition Series – Calgary, Canada
NORCECA Champions Cup – Cuba
XIV Pan American Cup – Peru
World Grand Prix – Puerto Rico & Argentina
Pan Am Games – Toronto, Canada
NORCECA Championships – Mexico
USA vs. Canada Exhibition Series – California
XV Pan American Cup – Peru
Grand Prix – Argentina, Puerto Rico, Vancouver
World Championship Qualifier – Langley, B.C.
Volleyball Nations League Qualifiers – Edmonton, Calgary
XVI Pan American Cup – Dominican Republic
FIVB World Championships – Sapporo, Japan