My path to UBC was nothing out of the ordinary.
During late November of my grade 12 high school season I finally made the decision of where I would play post secondary volleyball.
The University of British Columbia.
I would continue to develop in the Canadian system with players I respected and admired, Vancouver was just across the water from home, and after meeting with Doug it was an awkward, but easy sell.
I knew it was where I was meant to be.
But there was a time when it was not my first option.
I don’t know much about high school volleyball and recruiting these days, but I do see SO many girls accepting scholarships to go down South, and it makes me think about my own recruitment process and the decision I made to invest in myself and to invest in Canadian volleyball.
After watching the USports National Championships at Ryerson this weekend I am reminded about the strong level of female athletes that we have in the system. And I hope more young women continue to realize and seek out the amazing opportunities they have available to them to compete in the True North.
Why I chose the CIS over the NCAA
Ask me about my recruitment process and some, okay a lot, of the details are blurry. Not trying to age myself, but that process was nearly 10 years ago, and even then it was a blur at the time.
What I do remember was having stacks of letters from U.S schools asking me to join their program to play in the states. Washington State, UW, Oregon State, University of Oregon, Arizona State, Marquette, Creighton, Miami and Cal to name a few.
NCAA Division 1 - at the time this was the ultimate goal for many high school volleyball players. If you went Div 1 you had totally made it, and with a lot of my peers or people that I knew committing to play down South the pull became tantalizing.
Before I committed I went on 2 official visits. One to UBC and one to Washington State. I don’t remember every detail, but I know my trip to Washington was bigger than life. The campus was HUGE, the atmosphere at sporting events unmatched, there was a cafeteria just for athletes (food has always been life) etc.
Complete college town.
I mean who doesn't want to go to a campus where you're a rockstar for being on a varsity team. Where sports are idolized and where the athletes are taken care of. It's like the closest thing to playing pro minus the money (at least that's how I saw it).
The school was literally something out of a movie, something I had dreamed of, but it became a question of sacrificing my long term goals for four years of unknowns. I wasn't guaranteed the time off to develop and compete with the Canadian team. I wasn't guaranteed much of a summer season to play beach, or even take time off. I was only guaranteed a starting spot on a Pac 12 team.
Sounds pretty rad, but I felt like I would be settling for 4 years of an NCAA career instead of 5 years of a simultaneous CIS and international career. For as much as playing in the States could offer me as an athlete, to me it wasn't a complete package.
I think as a volleyball player I was able to truly develop my skill and thrive playing in Canada. I respect Doug as a coach and at that time looked up to the athletes past and present at UBC, many with various paths that led to Team Canada.
I had the opportunity to compete at the U19 World Championships in Poland, the U21 FIVB Junior World Championships in Turkey, the FISU games in Shenzhen, Pan American Cup, all experiences that I'm not so sure I would have had if I went to Washington.
Now, maybe I didn't visit enough schools to know if somewhere down South would have been a good fit for me. But, I knew that committing to a school where the path to Team Canada became complicated was far too risky for my long term goals just to see short term gains.
So, why not strengthen Canadian volleyball? Why not make some noise up North and prove that we are just as capable of creating legacies? Why not inspire the next generation of players in our country by greeting them in the stands? I would take that any day over an NCAA scholarship, and it's so disappointing to me to see how many players we lose to the states that never return to rep the maple leaf.
I chose Canadian volleyball because I saw it as a challenge to put ourselves on the map. I chose Canadian volleyball because I was a product of it's system and I was going to do everything in my power to continue to strengthen it.
I guess the point of this is answering the questions of why I decided to stay in Canada to play. The answer was simple. I couldn't build Canadian volleyball from afar when I had the chance to grow the game right at home.
Be the change you wish to see.
I'm by no means saying that it's for everyone, but I think sometimes it's easy to become caught up in the hype of the NCAA offers. I just hope more young women continue to take the opportunity to thrive in Canadian University sport, and realize the opportunities that are available to them right at home.
Who knows what legacy you will leave behind.