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Volleyball Canada National Excellence Program - Athlete Profile: Tara Garvey

By Ontario Volleyball, 03/31/20, 4:30PM EDT


Tara Garvey
Milton, ON
Defensa Volleyball Club

To spend one quarter of the year away from home has to be equally parts daunting and exciting for someone in high school, would it not? By that age, most kids have been on annual vacations with their families that last one to two weeks; the main objective in that time, to relax and have fun. While that goal of having fun doesn’t change in the National Excellence Program (NEP), the athletes participating are not only preparing to perform at the top level but as individuals ready to take on real life adjustments after high school. Under the wings of some of the country’s top coaches and trainers, athletes like Tara Garvey will have to balance what it takes to be a full-time athlete with a heavy training schedule and her academics through online classes.

While that does sound intimidating, if there’s one thing volleyball players know it’s the solid bond that they form as teammates not only on the court but off of it as well that will get them through any moments of uncertainty. For Garvey, it will be the first time that she will be apart from her family for this long; however, she joins three of her Defensa teammates (Jenna Pollock, Mady Saris and Viktoria Wahlgren) on this endeavor.

“I’m just looking forward to making new friendships, learning how to be by myself, getting training from other coaches and trying to be a better volleyball player in general,” Garvey says. “Basically the whole volleyball life – every day is volleyball.”

The desire of that lifestyle and commitment to excel at the highest level was reinforced with a FaceTime chat with 2019 Beach Volleyball World Champion Sarah Pavan.

“She talked with us and showed us the life of a professional volleyball athlete,” says Garvey. “It sounds like the place I want to be in and she inspired me to go get it and get up there.”

Garvey has been playing volleyball since grade seven. From soccer, skating, baseball, swimming, ballet and tap dance, she tried and played almost everything before settling on the sport that she really loved.

“At that time I was playing rep soccer but I broke my foot and I wasn’t really feeling like playing soccer anymore,” she recalls. “My mom signed me up for a Pakmen training program and I loved it so much and I was asking her if I could join the Pakmen team and the coaches were telling me I had potential to be a great player.”

Adamant on making a team, Garvey went to the tryout.

“I was really bad but the coaches said we could work with you,” Garvey said.

She stuck with volleyball and the realization that she could take her game farther slowly built, citing that 2019 was the year where the pieces started falling into place as she competed for Team Ontario on a team (Team Ontario Red – Albert) that won Division 1 Gold at the Canada Cup in Halifax.

“This National program (NEP) though is when it really clicked.”

Her regiment changed as well, now competing with a different club and working with specialized coaches and even changing her position.

“I was always a middle,” she stated. “I liked working the back row but I just never got the opportunity to play a different position. This year was my opportunity to switch to the left side.

Garvey will be entering grade 11 when the Program gets started; a unique and rare opportunity for one to take part in but an opportunity that’s needed to help her achieve her high-level volleyball goals.

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.

National Excellence Program Athletes