On Mondays, we are spotlighting some of the OVA's most dedicated members with a short feature on ontariovolleyball.org and social media channels.
We begin with a feature of Superior North Volleyball Club (SNVC) Coach Vanessa Masters from Thunder Bay.
"My official journey with OVA started last year as I was a member of the executive with Superior North Volleyball Club. However, I have been with volleyball since high school and played with SNVC in 2009 to 2011 followed by playing with Lakehead University in the OUA from 2011-2016. I started my coaching career in 2013 and have been coaching SNVC since then. While playing and coaching with SNVC, we played primarily in Minnesota and Manitoba Volleyball Association due to the geography of our region and the costs associated with trips to Southern Ontario.
The volleyball community in Thunder Bay is very tight-knit as we are a small city so everyone works together at one point or another. I have had the honour of playing and coaching with some amazing people throughout my journey so far and have gained invaluable friendships along the way.
Most people know the effort and dedication from me and my colleagues as coaches. If there was one thing that I think people underestimate, it is the time and dedication of planning a club or high school season and all the logistics that are done behind the scene to make things run smoothly. Playing and coaching during the game is the fun part!
I have so much to be thankful for in my volleyball community. If I had to pick one, I am most thankful for having the opportunity to play at a varsity level, making amazing friends throughout that time and being able to represent Thunder Bay on a home court. I was not a polished volleyball player entering university so I am grateful to my teammates and coaches, especially Chris Green who took a chance and had amazing patience as I grew as a player and as a person. The Thunderwolves volleyball community has been an incredible part of my volleyball story so I thank all of them for that part of my life.
Growing up with parents who were members of the OVA and both contributed a lot to volleyball, many people in my community know about my volleyball journey. That said, most people don't know that it took a long time for me to find my voice on the court as a setter and as a coach. It didn't come naturally to me at first but I have gained skills in giving direction and encouragement. Playing volleyball along with hockey and basketball have allowed me to gain self-confidence and help encourage teammates and most importantly help other young athletes reach their goals.
I have many amazing memories with volleyball including many four-day, three-game away trips with the OUA, road-trips with other coaches and all-day tournaments with the teams I've coached. My absolute favourite memory would have to be my last game with Lakehead when we beat Windsor in three at home. It was great to win the last game of my career but more than that, knowing we all played well and there was nothing I would have done differently in that game. It was bittersweet to be ending such an important part of my volleyball journey but good to know I would be staying with the game by coaching and continuing to play in adult leagues.
Masters setting during a Lakehead Thunderwolves match
I try to put things into perspective when times get tough or am faced with a challenge - it is something that can be used on and off the court. For example, when coaching a team coming from a young club with many new players, we have to put our goals into perspective so that they are attainable. Same goes for this year where things are being done so differently than ever before. What has really helped me is to have people believe in me, so I try to believe in myself and more importantly believe in the young athletes that I coach."
Check back on the second Monday of each month for a new Member Spotlight.