In a sport where individual skill must be combined within a cohesive team, it’s unusual for a small rural squad to send multiple players to an elite all-star competition.
The Ponoka-based U15 Central Rage female volleyball club will see three of its players — Cassandra Klinger, Autumn Roos and Kayla Vreugdenhil — part of the Zone 4 team at the Alberta Winter Games that will run in Fort McMurray from Feb. 16 to 19.
None of the three girls really expected to be named to the team, but anticipate this to be one of the biggest events of their young volleyball lives.
“I didn’t even hear about the tryouts until right before and to make it is pretty exciting,” said the 14-year-old Vreugdenhil.
“(This team) is totally different and it’s been extremely busy with two times the practices now, but that also means more touches which helps to get us ready.”
Roos, also 14, didn’t expect to get the call saying she made the team.
“It’s really amazing and it’s been fun with all of the new experiences so far,” she said, adding there were more than 70 players at the tryouts.
“It’s a different level of play. It’s going to be more intense, closer matches with a lot of excitement.”
For Klinger, she was able to choose what sport to go after to get to the games. Not only is the 14-year-old among the top volleyball players in the province, but she was ranked among one of the best female hockey players in the region and was among the small group of invitees to the zone camp last month.
“I decided to go with volleyball simply because of my interest in the sport and the improvements I’ve made. This event will come with higher intensity and skill, which will make it really interesting,” she said.
There was one point all three girls made though and that was having their teammates going with them will certainly help in a few different ways.
“It’s very nice that we are not going there alone and that we know what each other can do and how we play,” said Roos.
Klinger added, “Having all of us there will make things more comfortable, since we play together and know what each of us can do, but it’s also been great getting to know some new teammates.”
The three players were named to the squad back in December and Rage head coach Tammy Emes wasn’t surprised about how the tryouts turned out.
“I knew there would be at least three and thought there could have been a fourth named to the team,” she said.
“All of the girls have a great attitude and work really hard. But, they are part of a great group who all celebrated these girls making the club and their successes. These girls are good team players and will do really well.”