Fort Qu’Appelle’s Elyse Allard is back on home court after rallying on the west coast.
Allard was selected to train with the Volleyball Canada National Excellence Program in Richmond, B.C. from September to December of last year.
Volleyball Canada held identification camps across Canada looking for Under 18 players to train with the national team program staff. Allard was one of 16 players selected from more than 300 athletes across the country.
“We had about six girls from Ontario, five from B.C. There was one from Nova Scotia, so her and I were like solo soldiers,” Allard laughed.
The 17-year-old was the only player from Saskatchewan selected – the first from the province in more than five years. Allard has been on provincial teams and plays for the Sask Stealth volleyball club in Regina.
Allard’s coach wasn’t surprised the teen was picked up by Team Canada.
“We had earmarked her as being a candidate that was most likely going to be on the national team when she was older,” said Todd Carignan. “It happened quicker than we anticipated.”
“I don’t think it really hit me how crazy the opportunity was until I actually got there,” said Allard. “The level of training is so much higher, but it was really good.”
Allard juggled three hours of training a day with school. Unfortunately, the middle blocker missed five weeks of the four month camp with an ankle injury she’s still recovering from.
“She is resilient,” said Shannon Winzer, head coach of the Volleyball Canada program. “Unfortunately it meant she wasn’t on court a ton, but she showed up every single day and she was one of the most diligent athletes with her rehab.”
Allard will join the UBC Thunderbirds next season. She hopes the Volleyball Canada National Excellence Program is the first step on her journey to represent Team Canada at the Olympic Games.