–By Ottawa Sportspage, for Louis-Riel Rebelles
Though her job as a setter is to keep the ball steady as can be, it’s the momentum swings, the highs and lows, that Elly Cavan enjoys most about volleyball.
“I love the energy and the flow of the game when everyone’s working together,” explains the recent Louis-Riel high school grad. “I love competing with my teammates and celebrating with them after we win a point.”
Cavan’s passion for volleyball ignited during her time at Louis-Riel, where she began in the exploratory sports program as a Grade 7 student. Now set to join the Université Laval Rouge et Or, Cavan says a big key to her success was the four high school years she spent in Louis-Riel’s sports-study program.
“I could come in and get reps whenever I want really,” highlights Cavan, who appreciated being able to do her physical training during school hours, and getting more practices and touches than her club volleyball teammates. “It was really good to have that advantage, and it helped build my confidence too.”
There aren’t many high schools that have a Team Canada coach working with them on a daily basis either, Cavan adds. Louis-Riel volleyball program director François St-Denis has coached with the national youth program and most recently led Team Ontario to a Canada Cup title in July.
“It’s been pretty great for me,” smiles Cavan. “Technically, he’s a very good coach. And he’s always pushing me to constantly work on something. I don’t come to the gym just to practice. I come to focus the whole time and improve every time.
“He’s intense and he’s honest, but it’s good. It’s really helped me a lot over the years.”
St-Denis also takes time to teach life skills on top of sports skills, Cavan underlines.
“I’ve learned to come out of my shell,” she notes. “He’s taught me how to be a better teammate, a leader, and just a better person.”
While St-Denis won’t be there on a daily basis come this fall, Cavan will still have a mentor with Rebelle flavour available at Laval – Claudia Besner, a fellow Louis-Riel grad, is set to start her fourth year with Rouge et Or volleyball.
Cavan is eager to become a varsity athlete at one of Canada’s best-known sports schools, and hopes to enjoy a similar atmosphere as she did throughout her high school experience.
“It was always motivating to see different types of athletes when we’d do workouts,” signals Cavan, who was friends with some of Canada’s best pole vaulters and alpine skiers at Louis-Riel. “I could see what it takes to get to that kind of level.”
The past Ottawa Maverick and Fusion club player is thrilled to be able to continue playing the sport she’s fallen in love with at university.
“It’s become my life: I play volleyball, I workout every day,” Cavan details. “I couldn’t see myself not playing any more. It’s just part of me.”