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Camosun Chargers: it’s all in the family

Most siblings share an ‘irrefutable bond’ and nothing epitomizes that particular adage more than the fraternal duo of Chargers student-athletes Kathryn and Dennis Candell who stand out as the first brother-sister twosome to play different sports at Camosun over the same year.

Kathryn and Dennis Candell

Separated by two years, Kathryn is a third-year veteran and captain of the women’s basketball team while younger brother Dennis has just begun his rookie year with the Chargers men’s volleyball program. Each earned the title of Male/Female Athlete of the Year throughout their high school years at Pacific Christian School (Grades 8-12) with the exception of one year when Kathryn took the runner-up spot in Grade 11.

Kathryn and Dennis grew up in the southern US and moved with their family to Victoria in 2006. Their father Jeff Candell is a pastor at the Lighthouse Church and mother Robyn works in nursing. Eldest sibling Emily is currently studying at the University of Victoria (UVic). Kathryn’s twin brother Christopher studied computer science at UVic and resides and works in Victoria.

Last season, Kathryn was the PACWEST conference’s leading scorer and was named a 1st Team All-Star having averaged 18.29 points per game. Kathryn’s colorful accomplishments on the court were complimented by her achievements in the classroom where she earned her second consecutive CCAA National Scholar Athlete award and was named a CCAA Academic All-Canadian. With two years of University Transfer courses under her belt, Kathryn began her first-year of studies in Camosun’s Nursing program this past Fall.

Her brother Dennis has just begun his rookie season with the Chargers as a setter on the men’s volleyball team. He is first-year Arts and Science student who aspires to teach physical education or become an Athletic Director like his mentor, Jon Stewart at Pacific Christian.

Recently we caught up with Kathryn and Dennis about their love for sports and how Camosun is helping them reach their sport and career goals:

Did you grow up playing a variety of sports or have you always gravitated to the sport you play now?

Dennis: When we were growing up, mom wanted the girls to play volleyball and dad wanted the boys to play basketball. That’s sort of where we both started … me in basketball and Kathryn in volleyball, but by Grade 10 we both went the opposite way.

Kathryn: I always knew I wanted to play basketball over any other sport. It’s funny, but Dennis was actually terrible at volleyball. I remember practicing setting with him and thinking … oh no, he’s never going to play volleyball. And now, he’s a setter!

Was playing for the same college team ever in your plans growing up? What does it mean to you today?

Dennis: It wasn’t planned at all, but once I thought of coming to Camosun, I contacted Head Coach Charles Parkinson and kept emailing him for months. Charles basically already had two setters and two liberos and I wasn’t really a hitter so there wasn’t a specific spot for me … but Charles took me on which was a great surprise. I feel really fortunate to be on the team and to have the opportunity to play.

Kathryn: Dennis kind of gets my life now a little more. Since I started at Camosun, I’ve been really busy between school and basketball, especially this year because in nursing, we have six classes. I rarely get to see my family or have a social life, so it’s nice to have someone that understands that. And we get to spend more time together because we have the same practice schedules … we drive back and forth together and we’re in the gym at the same time almost every day now.

The best thing is that we have a lot of the same friends now from the teams we’re on. The volleyball guys and basketball girls have always been really good friends and we all hang out together and Dennis and I get to connect that way which is great.

You seem like really good friends … have you always been this way?

Kathryn: Dennis is literally my favourite person on the planet! We’ve always been best friends. My twin Christopher is my complete opposite. We’re close now but we used to argue all the time, I guess because we’re both really stubborn. But when Den found out that he was going to play volleyball we got really excited. Dennis is the person that everyone loves. If you went to every person in our family and asked them who was their favourite family member, every one of them would say Dennis because he’s such a lovable person.

I remember one time when I was about in Grade 4 I said, I don’t think I can be nice to everyone, but I’m going to pick Dennis and if he asks me for my candy, I’m going to give him my candy and it worked so well that I think that’s why we became best friends!

Dennis: I’m still the baby to everyone in our family, but Kathryn and I work well together. She still tries to boss me around a little and she guided me around when I first started college, but I don’t think she really thinks of herself as older. We’re really similar and we like a lot of the same things.

What do you think your experience at Camosun and with the Chargers will provide you - that you may have likely not have received anywhere else?

Kathryn: Being able to go to college and compete in sports while staying at home is great. Having different teammates every year is also interesting and fun because you get a completely new experience every year. I wondered about this year because all my best friends had left the program, but I think this team is the best so far because we work together so well. I love this year’s team!

Having a home gym at PISE is also really great, along with the people who support us. Our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Kate Perry, is new this year and has been a terrific addition to the team.

Dennis: The experience at Camosun has been amazing. I’m pretty much the back-up, back-up setter, but having Charles as a coach and having the opportunity to be around people at every practice like Vitor (Macedo) and Håkon (Østrem) who have had so much experience, has taken my training to a whole new level. It’s made me step up everything I do on the court. My teammates are also awesome. Hanging out with them at practice and training, travelling and being on the court with them is really great.

A history of Camosun Chargers family ties:

Over the 23-year history of the Chargers Athletics program, Camosun has seen a number of family ties that have enhanced the solidarity of its teams and members. Siblings who have recently played in the same year include sisters Taylor and Alexa Ellis (WVB: current year), twins Olivia and Rachael Bakker (WBB: 2013-16) and brothers Quinn and Cody Yates (MBB: 2014-15).

The Chargers have also seen a number of player’s fathers joining the program as coaches. The first was Canadian and BC Softball Hall of Fame inductee and former Team Canada basketball player, Bob Burrows. Bob coached the Chargers men’s basketball team from 1996-2002 while son Lanny played for the team in 1996-97. Current Head Coach of the Chargers men’s volleyball program Charles Parkinson is also a BC Hall of Famer (volleyball) and former Team Canada volleyball player. Charles coached the Chargers in 2012-13 with the assistance of son Devon who also played on the national team. Devon played for the Chargers in 2006-07, following sister Chelsea who played for the Camosun women’s volleyball team in 2005-06. Gord Inglis, Chair of Camosun’s BSFL Program has shared Assistant Coaching duties on the Chargers men’s volleyball team with son Andy since 2013-14. Andy played for the program for one year (2011-12) previous to joining the coaching staff. Tim Carlson joined the Chargers women’s basketball program as an Assistant Coach in 2015; he is the father of Kate and Rachel Carlson who played in 2006-09 and 2010-11 respectively.

More Chargers family members:

  • Dan Casey (MVB 1999-2002) and Sean Casey (MVB 2001-02)
  • Erin Davis (WBB 1999-2000) and Robin Davis (WBB 1999-2000)
  • Lucas Dellabough (MVB 2012-14) and Isaac Dellabough (MVB 2015-16 + present year)
  • Aislinn Dryden (WVB 2004-07) and Gabrielle Dryden (WVB 2006-07)
  • Jarryd Engevik (MBB 2013-14) and Justin Engevik (MBB 2013-14)
  • Sean Farrell (MBB 2001-02) and Liam Farrell (2002-03)
  • Mila Padjen (WVB 2003-04, WBB 2004-05) and Heidi Padjen (WBB 2003-05, 2008-09)
  • Brianne Larson (WBB 2011-2014) and Andrew Larson (MBB 2013 – current year)
  • Luke Letham (MBB 2003-05) and Brittany Letham (2004-05)
  • Dave Major (MVB 1998-99) and Terry Major (MVB 2003-06)
  • Garrett Marcellus (MVB 2006-07, 2009-13) and Ryan Marcellus (2012-14)
  • Domingo Miguel (MVB 1998-2000) and Maya Miguel (WVB 2001-03)
  • Olivia Redden (WVB 2011-12; 2012-13) and Cole Redden (MVB 2015-16)
  • Brian Reidstra (MVB 2005-06) and Eric Reidstra (MVB 2009-10, 2011-12)
  • Chris Spoor (MBB 2003-05) and Jeff Spoor (MBB 2006-08)
  • Angus Stewart (MVB 1994-96) and Eric Stewart (MVB 1997-98)
  • Jen Swiatlowski (WVB 2009-10) and Deena Swiatlowski (WVB 2009-10)
  • Erin Tassell (WBB 2002-03) and Sean Tassell (MVB 2003-04)
  • Eric Weatherby (MBB 2014-15) and Thomas Weatherby (MBB current year)
  • Quinn Yates (MBB 2014-16) and Cody Yates (MBB 2015-16)

We wish all the Chargers, their friends, family and fans a very happy holiday!

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