An Abbotsford women’s college volleyball team will have an Okanagan flavour to it in 2021-22.
The Columbia Bible College Bearcats have signed three Vernon players and one from Lake Country.
Heading to the Fraser Valley are Makenna Lane, from W.L. Seaton Secondary; Kassidy Schaper-Kotter from Vernon Secondary; Olivia Pederson of Vernon Christian School; and Georgia MacLean from George Elliot Secondary.
“We are definitely getting four really great athletes, but more importantly, we’re getting four character women,” said Bearcats head coach Rebecca Garner, who took over the team in May 2020 after Columbia Bible College went 2-22 in the Pacific Western Athletics Association (PACWEST) conference in 2019-20, including dropping its last 12 matches, and the last 10 without winning a set.
There was no action in 2020-21 due to COVID.
Garner has added eight players to the program since being named head coach.
The quartet joins Armstrong’s Samantha Jansen on the Bearcats roster. Jansen is in her third year at CBC, having graduated from King’s Christian School in Salmon Arm.
MAKENNA LANE, 17, five-foot-eight, outside hitter;
Lane started playing school volleyball at Seaton and has played club with the Vernon SKY program where Schaper-Kotter and Pederson have been teammates.
“I’m really excited to be going to CBC,” said Lane, who will enrol in the social entrepreneur program. “Moving away and leaving home will be tough but I’m looking forward to playing high-level volleyball.”
Lane lists her game strengths as consistency and reading the ball well and she’d like to improve on hitting the ball harder. She credits her coach Troy Lorenson, and her parents, Dionne and Kevin, for helping her get to the next level.
“My mom and dad pushed me to do it and give it my all,” she said. “My mom would sign me up for practices and camps so I could play every chance I could.”
OLIVIA PEDERSON, 17, five-foot-eight, setter;
Pederson chose CBC after getting to know Garner while attending Athletes in Action volleyball camps where Garner has coached her since Grade 8.
“She has helped me grow as an athlete and individual and I believe that will continue on as I join the Bearcats,” said Pederson, who plans to get a Bachelor of Arts degree in applied leadership.
“I am so excited to join the team she is building alongside my two current teammates. CBC also has a super supportive community and I know that they can help me reach my goals academically, athletically and spiritually.”
Pederson believes the biggest transition in making the jump from high school to college volleyball will be playing against competitors of different ages.
“That brings more maturity, wisdom and high-level playing experience,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to this.”
KASSIDY SCHAPER-KOTTER, 18, five-foot-seven, outside hitter;
Schaper-Kotter chose CBC because it’s close to Vancouver and she knows a couple of people who attended there and called it “an amazing place — a nice, small, happy community.” That’s good because not having played competitively for her final two years of high school and in club due to the pandemic has been, in her word, “awful.”
“Having no competition has totally changed my life,” said Schaper-Kotter, who will take general studies at CBC. “Usually I’m gone every weekend to a tournament, and now, it’s been nothing at all, and it’s hard to overcome that. As an athlete, it’s been depressing not competing against other players”
One of her strengths besides her faith is her commitment. Schaper-Kotter plays five different sports, including hockey and baseball. In Abbotsford, she’ll concentrate solely on volleyball.
“It will be hard to focus on one sport but it will be good to get back to playing,” she said.
GEORGIA MACLEAN, 18, six-foot, middle blocker;
Coach Garner can thank Pederson for the addition of MacLean, a Kelowna club veteran.
“Olivia reached out and asked if I was interested in playing post-secondary, and she got me in touch with Rebecca,” said MacLean, who will take general studies.
MacLean helped the George Elliot Coyotes win the bronze medal at the B.C. AA girls high school volleyball championships in Coldstream in 2019. While she’s looking forward to playing at college, she’s a little nervous about leaving home and her family.
She lists her strengths as her positive attitude and putting her teammates first and, as a middle blocker, says there’s nothing better than stuffing a would-be spike.
“I’m a strong blocker and love the competition, and blocking a kill is the best,” smiled MacLean. “There’s no better feeling.”