St. Catharines, ON
Defensa Volleyball Club
When her elementary school friends pleaded her to join the volleyball team because there wasn’t enough players trying out, Jenna Pollock quickly found a passion that would become inseparable. Like so many youth who dip their toes in multiple sports to find where the sweet spot lies, it was volleyball that resonated with Pollock the most.
“It kind of changed the path that I was going on for the better,” she said. “You can’t play individually in volleyball or you don’t win. You have to have good relationships with your team which is something I really value.”
While the love of volleyball’s the team culture kept her coming back year after year, Pollock could never quite see herself taking the sport beyond the club level. It wasn’t until she was selected to the U18 Canadian National team in 2018 where the wheels began to turn and knew she had something special, making the cut as an alternate on the squad. The Ontario-studded team would go on to capture the silver medal at the U18 NORCECA Girls Continental Championships.
“I didn’t make any teams for the summer and wasn’t getting noticed in the volleyball community until then,” she reflects on that summer. “I didn’t think I’d go anywhere until that moment and it made me want to train harder and hit a different level that I didn’t think was possible.”
Pollock mentions that she and her team arrives to every practice half an hour early to get the technical touches in from block movements, top spin and passing and adds that two days out of the week she focused on her weight training out in St. Catharines.
Her hard work continued to pay off as she was named to the final roster for the Canadian Youth National Indoor team the following year. Another Ontario-heavy team, they would compete in September at the FIVB U18 World Championships in Egypt; a once in a lifetime experience for the Niagara region middle-blocker.
Pollock now adds another notch to her remarkable youth career: a selection to Volleyball Canada’s National Excellence Program (NEP); a carefully hand-picked group of athletes from across the country to train and develop in a unique extended abroad program in British Columbia that will specifically prepare them for high end international competition. There will be comfort in numbers however, as Pollock joins three of her teammates from her club in the Program.
“We all started to get to know each other right when the email came out so that we’re comfortable around each other which is huge when you’re going to be spending so much time together,” she says of the athletes from the other provinces. “I’m just excited to see different aspects of volleyball and bring that to my game that I might not have gotten if I didn’t do this experience.”
More than anything, Pollock says it’s the opportunity to be around different players who share the same passion and wants in reaching the same goals that she’s most looking forward to; One of those goals being to play for the Canadian Women’s National Volleyball team.
“It’s been a goal of mine for a while now. Hopefully that’s where I’ll be in six years or so.”
The NEP is one step along the pathway that Pollock believes will help her attain that goal and will also make the transition to playing post-secondary volleyball much smoother as she has made the commitment to compete for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s (ACC) Boston College upon high school graduation. As a frequent follower of the NCAA tournaments, she was intrigued to see how far she could go with volleyball and when the institution, program and academics aligned, Pollock felt like she had made the right choice.
“It’s a new chapter in your life and you want something that you are so comfortable with in having that familiarity where it doesn’t feel like you’re completely starting over,” Pollock explains of her decision for post-secondary. “I could be around people with having some connection established already.”
The NEP is scheduled for September through December of 2020.
About the National Excellence Program
The National Excellence Program is designed to prepare athletes to perform at the highest level of volleyball and to continue their development towards the National Senior Team Program and/or playing professional volleyball.
Athletes are exposed to an array of Sport Science and Sport medicine services, dispensed by leading Canadian practitioners in a holistic high-performance environment.
Read more about Volleyball Canada’s NEP here.
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