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By Martin Cleary
In a perfect world, Audrey Goddard would have experienced the perfect Canada Summer Games this August.
Not only would the Ottawa multi-sport athlete have competed for Team Ontario in one sport, but also she would have shown her talents in a completely different second sport.
While Goddard qualified to attend the Games in women’s indoor volleyball and the heptathlon combined event in athletics, she was forced to pick one over the other. The Games will be staged in the Niagara Region Aug. 6-21.
The main reason for having to make such a difficult decision was indoor volleyball and the heptathlon are scheduled at the same time in the second week of the Games. Indoor volleyball runs Aug. 16-21 and the two-day heptathlon event is slated for Aug. 19-20.
In the end, Goddard, who competes for the Ottawa Fusion Volleyball Club and the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, elected to join the Team Ontario women’s indoor volleyball team. She was selected to the team about two months ago and has faithfully followed the team’s busy preparation schedule.
The recent Merivale High School graduate attended the Ontario Canada Summer Games trials for athletics on July 2-3 to continue her development as a heptathlete. When she placed second overall with 4,658 points, she earned a silver medal and an opportunity to be selected to Team Ontario’s athletics squad.
A final decision had to be made quickly as athletics needed to submit its final team roster two days after the trials to the Canada Summer Games organizing committee.
“I would have gone, definitely,” Goddard said about representing Ontario in indoor volleyball and athletics, if the Games’ schedule had worked in her favour. “Yes, if I were able to do two, for sure.
“But I had already said yes to volleyball. I felt more obligated.”
Goddard put plenty of thought into the difficult decision of which sport would be her Canada Summer Games’ competition.
She will begin studying neuroscience in September for her freshman year at the University of Western Ontario (which is also home to combined events Olympic champion Damian Warner). Goddard plans to train with the track and field team, but will not try out for the women’s volleyball squad.
“It all happened so fast. Track just happened recently. And it fell into my lap that I would do volleyball,” said the OFSAA high school provincial girls’ senior 100-metre hurdles silver medallist. “I also will have a lot of opportunities at university to compete in track.”
After testing her athletic skills as a young girl in gymnastics, soccer, hockey, football and volleyball, Goddard decided at age 13 to focus on volleyball.
“I loved volleyball. My friends got me into it and it has been fun,” she indicated.
For the past five years, Goddard has been associated with Ottawa Fusion. In May, she helped her team win the girls’ 18-and-under, division 1, tier 4 title at the Canadian youth volleyball championships, which meant Fusion placed 25th overall in the country. Fusion also was 10th at the Ontario championships.
During the national championships, Team Ontario coaches scouted their provincial players and Goddard, who can play either the left- or right-side positions, caught the eye of team officials.
She was invited to a two-day Team Ontario tryout camp and then waited for a decision by the coaching staff.
“I (went) home and waited. It was really stressful. I couldn’t tell if I wanted to make the team or not because I would be away the entire summer. I would be away from track and field and that would be rough,” Goddard explained.
When she got the news she was being offered a berth on Team Ontario for indoor volleyball, it was an emotional moment.
“I was at the (National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association) track championships and I started to cry,” Goddard added. “I wasn’t sure I wanted this or not.”
But since accepting the position in Team Ontario’s female indoor volleyball lineup, she has dedicated the past two months to being part of a high-level team.
“It has been good. I’ve enjoyed it. It has been different. It has been a lot of hard work. I like being away from home and it will be a good step towards university. It’s a good transition,” she said.
The Team Ontario women’s volleyball squad staged a two-week camp at Niagara College earlier this month before heading to Calgary for last week’s Canada Cup tournament. Team Ontario won its first five games against other provincial teams and various Canadian U19 teams, but lost its final two games, including the Tier 1, bronze-medal match to Quebec, 3-1.
On the weekend, Team Ontario will start its final 2½-week training camp at Mohawk College. Every day will be non-stop action of off-court training, practices, meetings and meals.
“Our coaches have a lot of good regard and faith in us, which is promising,” Goddard said. “We have a really good team and it’s super nice to spend time with them. We’re pushing super hard.
“We’re playing really well together. We’re quick and are really good at offensive hitting with an amazing middle and right side.”
Once Goddard completes her volleyball mission for Ontario at the Canada Summer Games, she’ll turn her attention to the seven events of the heptathlon – 100-metre hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 metres, long jump, javelin and 800 metres.
“I’m happy about my first year. I definitely have way more to go. It was a successful starting point. I like it a lot,” said Goddard, who won the women’s U20 heptathlon silver medal at the Canadian track and field championships in Langley, B.C., with 4,480 points.
Two more local players will join Goddard on Ontario’s indoor female volleyball team – 17-year-old Victoria Potvin and 19-year-old Thompson Rivers University student Kate Lamothe, who are both associated with the Ottawa Maverick Volleyball Club.
The Canada Games female indoor volleyball tournament runs from Aug. 16-21 at Brock University and Niagara College Welland. Consult the full schedule here.
In the two weeks leading up to the start of the Canada Summer Games, OttawaSportsPages.ca will be profiling participating local athletes. During the Aug. 6-21 Games, we’ll bring you daily reporting live from Niagara Region. Sign up to receive our free Ottawa at the Canada Summer Games Daily Newsletter to follow along!
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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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