Fifteen-year old Keely Anderson of Outlook is really making a heck of a go at this volleyball thing.
For most young athletes, the sport is just a game, but Anderson has been involved in volleyball so long that she has started to represent our province at national competitions. That’s exactly what she did this past July when she ventured to Richmond, BC to play in the 2018 Canada Cup from July 19-22, playing with one of the two Team Saskatchewan rosters on the 16-Under squad clad in white.
The long-time athlete, who’s headed into Grade 11 at LCBI High School, has been involved in the sport for almost a decade.
“I’ve played high school volleyball since Grade 6, and I started Club about a year ago,” said Keely. “It’s just always fun to get to play on a team and meet new people, and you can be aggressive in the sport and play hard, and it’s fun especially when you’re tall.”
The road to playing for her province in British Columbia on a national stage started with some hustling on the court in front of officials who were trying to find the best of the best.
“Team Sask held a trial, and I originally tried out with the U-15 Team Sask team, and what they do is have three trials,” Anderson explained. “We go to the first two trials and they kind of decide who they want, and then they hold a third trial with the people they’ve picked, about 50 of them, and then they hold something like a bubble game to decide who they want on the team. I was on the U-15 for the first two trials, and then they decided to move me up to U-16 team level for the West trial, and then I made the U-16 team for Team Saskatchewan in the West.”
When Keely discovered she’d made the team headed to Richmond, she soon found out she wasn’t the only one who was beyond excited.
“When I found out I made the team I was speechless, and I was so excited that I was texting all my friends,” she said. “Right after we found out who had made it, we made a group chat and we were all talking and so excited to meet each other. I was just overwhelmed, and it was so much fun.”
Anderson was soon glad to see that she was playing with someone she knew, a fellow player named Tylar Oliver who plays with Keely on her Huskies club team. Soon, it was on to training for Team Saskatchewan, where everyone learned how to cooperate and gel as a team.
“We went down to Caronport and practiced at the Briercrest gym and stayed indoors for about three weeks,” she said. “We just got together as a team and learned how each one of us plays, and built our skill with some really good coaches. I learned a lot.”
In the tournament itself, Keely and Team Saskatchewan 16-U White grabbed wins against squads from BC, Manitoba and Alberta, enough to vault them into the bronze medal game against Team Ontario. And while Saskatchewan didn’t come out on top, Anderson is grateful for the experience because she learned a lot about the sport that she loves to play.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I got to see all the competition from around Canada and how big the girls were, how they played, and I got to learn how to play against them. It was lots of fun being able to go on the court and know that you’re in one of the top twelve and doing really good.”
One thing Keely has learned from the Canada Cup experience is that it’s not just about how one performs on the court from a physical standpoint.
“Your mental game is very important, and the best team is the one that has the best mental game,” she said. “Everyone has the same skill out there, but it’s all about the mental game, so I’d say making sure my mental game is at its best.”
As for Keely’s future in volleyball, she’s looking forward to continuing to play, and hopes that she’ll make a university team after she graduates from high school.
“I see myself wanting to keep playing volleyball and hopefully make a team in post-secondary,” she said. “I’ve already been scouted by the U of S, so I’m hoping maybe if I get the chance to play there, it would be a dream.”