“Great role model, very positive in any circumstance even when frustrated. You maintain a positive attitude and always recognize your limits… understanding that is huge at your age,” said Peter Skene Ogden (PSO) Secondary School’s volleyball coach, Lara Soukoreff to a blushing Nicole Varney.
Varney is a dual athlete at the school in Grade 12, playing both volleyball and soccer.
Playing volleyball since Grade 6 and soccer since Grade 4. She started both due to the influence of her friends, who were also playing.
“It’s kind of like when you’re in elementary school and everyone just plays and hops onto a team and you really don’t know what your doing but it’s one of those things where you start off young playing in gym class and as you go on you learn more about it,” said Varney. “I just really being with the team. It gave me something to do with my free time.”
Despite playing soccer for longer and more competitively, volleyball is her preference but said she loved them both. She also only plays at school due to the lack of volleyball clubs in the area.
She mentioned Lori Melville, Soukoreff and Lisa Crompton as her influences. All three have coached her in volleyball at PSO.
Crompton, a teacher at 100 Mile Elementary, has been volunteering her time as a coach for three years. Crompton also played at the club, university and high school levels.
“Lisa is awesome. She volunteers her own time to come help us. She leads practices, she gives us all her wisdom about the sport,” said Varney. “She knows so much about the sport. She’s hard on you but it pays off in the end.”
For Soukoreff, Varney said she had a motivating presence and was able to get the girls on the team to show up and do the work, something they both said is hard for teenage girls to do.
“I think for girls, it’s hard to show your full potential in PE like there’s a definite difference between strength, speed and power. So if you get girls doing their own game you can bring out their own competitiveness and you can bring out their higher level of play because they’re also surrounded by other girls and don’t have all these other insecurities going on,” explained Soukoreff.
Varney, who can play every position on the volleyball team, has followed Soukoreff’s lead in trying to motivate her fellow players. As captain of the team, that carries Grade 8 to 12 students, she has taken a handful of them under her wing.
The volleyball season for PSO, running from September to December, ended on a high note for the team and for Varney. They won their last game against Ashcroft, even though due to the range of ages in the team they didn’t win a lot of games this season.
Varney will be going to university for nursing and will continue to play if she can balance it with her school work.