As I write this, our women’s Avalanche volleyball team is on its way to Charlottetown, PEI to compete in the 2016 CCAA National Volleyball Championships. Today also happens to be International Women’s Day. I can’t think of a better day highlight this fantastic group of young ladies as they embark on this exciting, yet challenging, adventure.
In what has been referred to as a ‘Cinderella story’, the ladies, who went to Provincials ranked #6 out of 6 teams, went on to beat the #3, #2 and #1 seeded teams to win the gold medal for the PACWEST. Though winning silver would have still ensured them a spot in the National championships, that was not enough for this determined group.
Before they departed for the Maritimes, I had the opportunity to chat with three of the star players on the team. Kelsey came to the College from Vernon, is enrolled in Business Administration and is a Power Outside Hitter for the Avs. Alexa is from Lethbridge, is enrolled in the UVIC/East Kootenay Teacher Education program and plays the position of Libero. Kennedy came from the tiny town of Niverville, Manitoba, is enrolled in Office Administration and plays the position of Middle.
What is apparent when sitting down with these three is that they are very close. During our visit they referred to the team chemistry, their support for each other, and to being like a family. All of this is apparent when you see them interact.
What is also apparent is their confidence. Going to Provincials ranked #6 didn’t affect them. They knew from the start that they could win their first match. They had won against Camosun in the regular season, and were sure they would do it again. Winning that game brought them to the semi-final match – against #2 Capilano and eventually to the gold medal game against #1 seeded Vancouver Island University. They see a few things as contributing to those final big two wins.
The first – is that team chemistry. They were there to have fun and enjoy the experience. They didn’t play with a sense of urgency, they didn’t panic. They just enjoyed the experience and being with each other.
The second contributor is a ritual of Kelsey’s. She had taken to playing inspirational speeches to the rest of the team before matches. At the Provincials she played one that included a line that really resonated with her teammates – “Passion has a funny way of trumping logic”. “This is the most passionate team I’ve ever played on,” Alexa says. So, it didn’t matter if logically the #6 team shouldn’t beat the #3, #2 and #1 teams. They knew they had enough passion to trump that.
Another contributor to their success is all of the support they received. Throughout the season, with the men’s team cheering them on and many of their parents travelling to watch them play – away games felt more like home games. And during the Provincials, other teams got behind the underdog Avalanche. Anyone watching the game – whether in person or online – had no doubt who the crowd was rooting for. Cheers for COTR were like “an instant wall of energy” for the girls.
Looking ahead to Nationals, the ladies are very exited for all they are about to experience. Seeing PEI, getting to play teams they’ve never seen before, representing the province of BC and representing their little school, College of the Rockies.
Our College is a small one in the corner of Southeastern BC. Not everyone knows who we are. But thanks to this team – people now know that we might be small – but we’re mighty. The College’s brand promise is – Rocky Mountain Inspired, Small College Proud. Before going to Provincials the ladies didn’t realize how much support they had here. Support from their fellow students, from faculty, support staff and management at all levels. Watching the amazing feats of this team of women has reminded us all what Small College Proud really means.
The women are travelling to Charlottetown with a strong belief in themselves and the confidence that they can come home with a medal. No matter what the results are – they have already made us all #SmallCollegeProud. Good luck ladies. And happy International Women’s Day to all the amazing women out there.