Evolution of an Athlete

Evolution of an Athlete

Evolution of an Athlete

I’m unsure how to describe what 11-year-old first time Sea-Hawks’ volleyball camper Sarah Dawe looked like, but I’ll try my best. Imagine, if you will, a lanky and uncoordinated adolescent unable to jump 3 inches off the floor and beginning to learn the basics of volleyball.  If you can picture that, it may look something like me, or a young girl you may know now.  I attended my first volleyball camp at Memorial University, the summer that I was going to grade 6.  After the first camp, I was hooked on volleyball and I was a camper every summer up until I graduated high school. I am currently a second year varsity volleyball player and summer camp coach. The transition from camper to varsity athlete to coach didn’t come without its challenges, but the experience has been amazing.

I think every varsity athlete will agree that the road to becoming a CIS player isn’t easy. It requires hard work, dedication, commitment and most of all; sacrifice. As a young elementary student, I didn’t comprehend any of this. All I knew was that the MUN volleyball girls, who instructed me, very quickly became my idols and role models. The Sea-Hawks camps became the highlight of my summer and the girls and Coach Bill Thistle took me under their collective wings and steered me in the direction of the Sea-Hawks varsity program. When I was in Grade 10 and attending a camp, Coach Thistle told me he felt I had what it took to become a Sea-Hawk. Was he giving me a free pass to the CIS? Absolutely not.  He was giving me the opportunity prove myself worthy.

There was a whole list of things I needed to work on to elevate my game. Not just skills, but strength training.  Fortunately, my physical education teacher at Mount Pearl Senior High, Rudy Norman, was a former Memorial University varsity soccer player and had an excellent understanding of what I needed to do. He designed a strength training program that I worked diligently at for three years and of course he made adjustments along the way. I played on every volleyball team that I possibly could and worked hard to achieve my goal.

Here’s where the sacrifice came in. Academics were and still are extremely important to me.   I had to work exceptionally hard in school to keep on top of things and achieve my academic goals.   I have also always had a keen interest in music. I had to become an effective time manager to keep my commitment to the Mount Pearl Show Choir which was also a huge part of my school life from Grade 6 to Grade 12.  Even though I am a Sea-Hawk now, I know I need to constantly use my time well and always strive for improvement in order to keep my spot on the roster. 

My Sea-Hawks camp experience has changed significantly since the summer after I high school.  Now I am the instructor and it’s the young students that look to me for knowledge and guidance I once so desperately needed.  I always try to see myself in these athletes and to remember that the things I say and do are important.  I am now influencing these young people the way the former players influenced me. This is a responsibility that I take very seriously. If participants have positive experiences and learn, they’ll be eager to work hard to improve. This helps me bring positivity and professionalism to my instruction. I feel that my experience as a camper has helped me extensively to become a better coach. This past summer I had the pleasure of being an assistant coach for the 17-U male team in the NLVA’s Provincial Program.  This was an awesome experience and another opportunity to share the skills I’ve learned. Not so long ago I had best coaches in Newfoundland take an interest in me as a teenager and I like to feel that I have been given that same opportunity to pay it forward. 

The idea I want to leave other young players with is this.  A willingness to learn and develop is a HUGE part of becoming a better athlete and most importantly understanding that it takes time.  I didn’t become a varsity volleyball player overnight. It took 8 years (and a lot of volunteer coaches) for me to get here. My path to the CIS began with my positive experience as a young Sea-Hawk camper. 

However, I still have lots of things to learn and understand as an athlete.  As a coach, I believe that every player deserves a chance to understand the game and should strive to be better every single day.  Becoming a varsity athlete is an attainable goal if you are willing to be coached and put in the work, not only in your sport but in the classroom as well!

As a player I look forward to seeing you at our homes games and as a coach, I’ll see you next summer.   

By: Sarah Dawe