Defensa Volleyball Club
The dream of an individual competing for their country’s National Senior team is not an uncommon one. It would be fair to say it embodies the pinnacle of the athlete journey; the unfathomable amount of hours spent practicing in the gym, at home and the distances travelled to and from competition with your friends with the intention of improving weekly performances and returning with the hardware to show – it takes a lot of work. Some know as soon as they take their first step foot on the court that competing for Canada is the final destination, while others might realize it three or five years down the road. Regardless when one realizes it, there needs to be a plan to reach it. An obvious bridge would be post-secondary.
For Mady Saris, who has been playing volleyball for five years, it was attending the High Performance Centre in 2017.
“After seeing the potential in myself at the HPC, I started getting exposed to U.S. tournaments and getting exposed to more coaches,” Saris recalls. “I started to build this dream of playing in the Big 10 (Conference) and representing Canada at the senior level.”
The fulfillment of that dream has been set in motion as she committed to play for Indiana University, an institution where 2019 Evelyn Holick Award recipient Haley Armstrong currently plays. Before that bridge is crossed however, Saris gets the opportunity to participate in Volleyball Canada’s National Excellence Program (NEP) - a distinction that 16 athletes from across Canada receive.
“The tryouts were really competitive,” she says. “There was a lot of ‘what ifs’.”
For Saris, this opportunity will provide her a taste of what the student-athlete life will be like when she embarks on Indiana University and to further understand the caliber of athlete it takes to be to compete on the national and international stages as she hopes to be there once more. Saris, like fellow teammate Jenna Pollock, made the cut to compete for the Youth National Team in September 2019 where they travelled to Egypt for the World Championships. One year later, Saris, along with the 15 other athletes will make British Columbia their home as they learn from the best to progress on that National goal.
“Meeting new people, learning from new coaches and getting different views on the game will help me improve,” Saris lists some items that she’s looking towards on the NEP. “Also, being in that competitive environment where you have full time training and being also a student athlete – balancing volleyball and keeping up with school.”
The Defensa Outside Hitter says that she intends on studying athletic therapy when she’s in Bloomington, IN and when she finishes her collegiate career she would like to play overseas in a European league, a circuit that many Canadian National team members pursue.
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.
Tag(s): In The Community