Mountain Volleyball Club
It’s family tradition. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that a lot of athletes got into a sport because of a sibling or their parents, specifically because they played the sport in their youth. To grow up in a household that already fosters a passion for the game would seem to make it inescapable for a child to not at least try it when they decide to play sports as they tend to follow in the footsteps of the one’s they look up to the most.
“He used to hold a volleyball in front of me and say Spike It!” Payton Lightfoot recalls how her father would introduce her to the game when she was little. Both of Lightfoot’s parents played when they were younger. She also has an older brother who played as well. “I wanted to be like him.”
Since grade five Lightfoot has been playing volleyball with each year seeing improvement, capturing medals with her club and getting higher development opportunities. She started realizing that the sport and her game can be taken farther.
“I kept getting chosen for things like the Regional Teams, Provincial Teams and (OVA) Athlete Development opportunities and realized that if I took these opportunities I could take it to the next level if I wanted to with hard work,” she said. “I didn’t want volleyball to stop in my life. After this summer with Team Ontario I realized how much fun it was playing in these high performance environments.”
Through all of the camps and games played with Mountain Volleyball Club and Team Ontario, the goal of being selected to the Senior National Women’s Team somewhere down the line is still in sight which Lightfoot believes is more validated with her announcement to Volleyball Canada’s National Excellence Program (NEP). With the understanding of the NEP and the impact it could have on her game, Lightfoot was eager to jump at the bit.
“It’s going to help me improve so much and I think that other future high performance and maybe Olympic opportunities will be possible from the completion of it,” she says of the Program. “When I’m there I’ll be playing with the other top athletes from Canada which is also really exciting and getting insight from other high level coaches. With the other camps, I’ve only been away from home for one or two weeks and this one is four months so it’s a little scary but it’s something that I’m looking forward to.”
For a brief period of time it will be a different regiment and a different way of life for the six-foot-three Middle, who will use these moments ahead of her as a learning lesson for when she pursues volleyball after high school; becoming independent and experiencing what it will be like to leave the nest.
Though the NEP is a full-time volleyball training environment, the athletes also have to take on their regular class workload, albeit through online learning. For Lightfoot (and those entering the Program) this is the way of life, so to speak; school and volleyball with seldom in the middle, though Lightfoot admits she would like to get additional training in.
“With school and volleyball I don’t really find much time to do a lot of training which is a little upsetting because I would like to do more workouts but I can’t really find the time as I’m always up after practice doing my homework,” she says. “But I do enjoy going on runs and jogs, I just hope I get to do more workouts in the future.”
As she alluded to, the future implications as far as opportunities go from being part of this program can be many. The work ethic and skill set gained from this experience is invaluable. Lightfoot has yet to decide where she eventually would like to continue playing volleyball after high school but she is certain of the end goal that is representing Canada.
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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