Two Courtenay volleyball stars have committed to post-secondary schools in Alberta.
Gracie Walls has been recruited to play on the women’s volleyball team this fall at Olds College, while Michelle Belyk will play for Calgary’s Mount Royal University Cougars.
A recent graduate of Vanier Secondary, the 5’11” Walls is a leftside/rightside player. The 17-year-old captained Vanier’s senior girls teams in 2018 and 2019. Both years, she was an all-star selection at the Island championships. In 2017 and 2018, she was a member of Team B.C.
“That was a really good experience,” she said, recalling tournaments contested around the province. “Amazing coaching, and amazing girls to play with.”
Walls has also been playing with the Mariners Volleyball Club, a feeder team for the Vancouver Island University Mariners in Nanaimo.
She fell under the Olds College radar via an NCAA recruiting site, where she was able to upload videos while still attending high school.
Rhonda Schmuland, coach of the Broncos women’s team at Olds College, is excited to have Gracie join the program for the 2020-2021 season.
“Her competitive attitude, desire for success, and experience with Team B.C. and MVC will be an asset to our team as we continue building on our ability to compete at the highest level in the ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference),” she said.
Schmuland has been recruiting over the past six months to fill positions left vacant due to key players who have graduated.
Walls, who has met some of her coaches and teammates online, is excited to take her game to the next level.
“I like the fast pace and sprint-ups,” she said. “They have a lot of new players, but a lot of the girls who have been there are welcoming and nice. It seems like a good team, overall. Super friendly, willing to help with anything.”
She plans to enrol in business management her first year, after which she might enrol in the welding program.
Belyk attended Mark R. Isfeld Secondary High School. The 6’1″ middle blocker was a member of the North Island Wave Volleyball Club, and will join the Mount Royal business program.
“I am looking forward to the team’s great atmosphere and energy. Everyone has already made me feel so welcome and like a part of the team,” says Belyk. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to get trained by these great coaches who I know will help me become the best I can be and grow as a person on and off the court.”
Cougars assistant coach Sammy Fraser expects Belyk to have an immediate impact.
“We were focused on bringing in a combination of athletes that would have the size and athleticism that it takes to compete in Canada West, as well as the passion and grit that it takes to compete in the MRU women’s volleyball program,” he said, in a press release. “More importantly, the 2020 recruiting class was about finding not only exceptional athletes, but exceptional young women that would help continue to build our legacy on the court, in the classroom, and in the community.”
The Cougars finished second in the Canada West standings in 2019, with a 21-3 record.