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Camosun women’s volleyball coaches compare notes on nationals

Media Release
Release date: March 7, 2017

Former Chargers women’s volleyball teammates Hilary Graham and Erika Sheen have shared many rewarding experiences in their five years as student-athletes.

Erika and Hilary as players

Among those, both have earned a bevy of awards in recognition of their achievements both on and off the court, including the CCAA National Scholar Athlete, the CCAA Academic All-Canadian and PACWEST Conference All-Star, just to name a few. Both have also represented Camosun at the 2015 CCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championship where the team made history, winning the program’s first-ever National Championship medal (Bronze).

Two years later, Hilary and Erika are still with the Chargers women’s volleyball program – as assistant coaches. Today, we talked with the duo to compare notes about their experience in 2015 and this year’s road to the national championship.


Erika Sheen

Chargers Women’s Volleyball Assistant Coach

What will be the biggest difference between your experience in 2015 where you went to nationals as an athlete versus this year where you are a coach?

The obvious difference is that I won't have control of the play like I did when I was an athlete (setter), but I’m looking forward to the experience of being on the bench as a coach in the tournament that every girl dreams of playing in when they grow up. I am also very excited to watch the girls perform on their home court at such a big event.

How would you compare this year’s journey to Nationals to that of 2015?

Every year and every team is different and it is all about creating your story as a team. At the end of the day, they are in the season's biggest event and that is all they should think about. They have an opportunity in front of them to play their best ball they can and to just live in the moment. It doesn't matter how you get there, it is all about the experiences and lessons you can take away from your season. They are a new team, it is a new year and it is a new path and story that they are creating.  

The squad suffered a disappointing first round knock-out at Provincials. Having competed at the national level, what kind of advice or motivation do you have for this year’s student-athletes as they regroup and prepare for the competition ahead?

My biggest advice to the girls would be to just live in the moment. The season hasn't gone as many of them probably hoped, but it’s in the past and all they can do is just prep themselves to play in the greatest moment of their careers. The weekend will go SO fast and I hope they can all just take a few moments in every warm up of their games and just look around and be proud of themselves. It is one of the greatest events to be a part of and I hope they are able to take the time to live in the moment and take it all in.

What do you feel is the most significant advantage to competing for the National title on your home court?

I would say familiarity would be the advantage to competing on your home court. The girls have prepped in their team room, played on their home court all year round so just the basics of something they are used to. They get to sleep in their own beds and have all the comforts of home. Playing in front of their friends and family and the excitement the fan base will bring will also be a plus and will definitely help boost the players’ confidence.

Do you miss playing?

I get this question a lot and my answer every time is YES! It’s crazy how fast your career goes when you are playing. I would literally do anything just to put the Camosun jersey on, even just one more time and go live in the moment again. These days, I’m playing in a co-ed rec league - with Hilary, actually! It’s great to get out and play once a week but it just isn't the same.

Hilary Graham

Chargers Women’s Volleyball Assistant Coach

What will be the biggest difference between your experience in 2015 where you went to nationals as an athlete versus this year where you are a coach?

Going to nationals as a coach will be a very different experience for me, I don't really know what to expect. I have been there as an athlete so I will hopefully be able provide the players with some insight into what to expect. I'm really looking forward to the team's second appearance at nationals, it should be great!

How would you compare this year’s journey to Nationals to that of 2015?

2015 was a first for everyone involved in the women's volleyball program. It was the first time the team had appeared on the national stage and a lot of us didn't know what to expect. This year, there are several of us who have been there before … Erika and I, Katie Fetting and Lainey Jantzi – we’ve had the experience of competing on that stage and I believe it will help us prepare the team and each other for success in this environment.

The squad suffered a disappointing first round knock-out at Provincials. Having competed at the national level, what kind of advice or motivation do you have for this year’s student-athletes as they regroup and prepare for the competition ahead?

The best advice I could give to the girls is to try and be present and take in every moment starting right from the first moment they walk into the gym and see the new court set up. It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the tournament and let the little things slip by. If the athletes can work together to help keep each other grounded during the tournament I think that could be essential in leading to their success at the championships.

What do you feel is the most significant advantage to competing for the National title on your home court?

I would say the biggest home court advantage is that you have all your friends and family there to support you and the team. Personally, that was always one of the best parts of playing at home for me.

Do you miss playing?

There are certain aspects that I miss for sure. I miss the competitive nature of the game and competing at a higher level and also have that end goal of a successful playoff run. I do play in a co-ed rec volleyball league, Erika and I actually play on the same team. I've also started to pick up some sports that I used to play in high school, it's fun to be able to do a bunch of different activities during the week.


The 2017 CCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championship begins Thursday, March 9 and runs to Saturday, March 11. Seeded #7, the Chargers face the #2 Humber Hawks in the quarterfinal feature match, 8pm on Thursday, March 9.

Find official championship information here.

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Contact

Graham Matthews
Championship Coordinator
matthews@camosun.ca
250-370-4736

Photos courtesy Camosun Chargers Athletics

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