Vernon’s Kelsey Thompson (centre)

Vernon’s Kelsey Thompson (centre)

Thompson leads COTR to nationals

The Avalanche, which includes Vernon’s Kelsey Thompson, left Tuesday for the CCAA women’s national volleyball championships in Charlottetown

DARRYL SCHMIDT

For The Morning Star

Passion for volleyball has the College of the Rockies’ Cranbrook-based women’s team loving life.

The Avalanche, which includes Vernon’s Kelsey Thompson, left Tuesday for the CCAA women’s national volleyball championships in Charlottetown.

After earning a spot in the PACWEST provincial championships in February for only the second time in the team’s 15-year history, the Avalanche surprised many by winning gold in Abbotsford.

Thompson, Alexa Koshman and Kennedy Koop are three members of the gold-medal winning team.

Thompson was named a first team all-star for the league as well as MVP for the tournament and player of the game for the gold-medal match, a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the top-ranked Vancouver Island University Mariners of Nanaimo.

Thompson, the PACWEST female athlete of the week, compiled 37 kills during the provincial tournament, none bigger than the 11 she had in the gold medal match with her team down 0-2.

Along with her outstanding defence and passing, the Avalanche rode the momentum created by Thompson to win the provincial title.

Koshman and Koop were both named tournament all-stars.

When reflecting on their time at provincials, the student-athletes said they went in knowing that they had what it takes to win.

To help them along the way, Thompson, a Business administration student, would play inspirational speeches to her teammates.

One line in a speech hit a chord with her teammates – “Passion has a funny way of trumping logic.”

“This is the most passionate team I’ve ever played on,” said Koshman, a University of Victoria/East Kootenay teacher education student from Lethbridge. “Perhaps having us, at No. 6, beating the No. 2- and No. 1-ranked teams wasn’t logical, but we knew we had the passion necessary to do it.”

Said Thompson: “We peaked at the right time. While some teams peaked earlier on in the season, we came into our own at the right time. And if we lost a point or a game, we didn’t panic. We just stayed positive and kept pushing.”

The team is extraordinarily close and the trio is clear that this was a team effort.

“We are like a family,” said Thompson. “We have a lot of fun on and off the court.”

The support they received along the way had a huge impact on their success.

Many of the student-athletes’ parents would travel to their games to cheer them on and the men’s team provided support all season long.

As the underdogs, the Avalanche received a lot of support from other colleges and universities in the PACWEST.  This was especially apparent during provincials, with the crowd loudly and enthusiastically rooting on the Avalanche.

“The cheers from the crowd felt like an instant wall of energy,” said Koshman. “We were able to feed off that.”

Looking ahead to nationals, the ladies are feeling confident.

“We strongly feel that we can get a medal,” saidThompson.

Rather than being intimidated by the challenge ahead of them, these three athletes are excited to be representing B.C. and College of the Rockies.

“The college says we’re ‘Small College Proud’ and the support we’ve seen through this shows that,” said Koop.

“We didn’t realize how much support we had here until provincials,” adds Thompson.

“It’s going to be cool to represent everyone at the college and to show what it means to be small college proud.”