BEN LYPKAMission Record
Four years ago, Makenzie Rourke saw her sister Jaime excel in volleyball at the BC Summer Games in Surrey, earning a silver for the Fraser Valley zone team.
This summer in Abbotsford it’s Makenzie’s turn.
The Grade 9 Hatzic Middle School student is expected to be a key piece for the 2016 Fraser Valley zone girls volleyball team, and has already established herself as one of the team’s top setters.
Makenzie, the lone Mission resident on the team, followed in her sister’s footsteps into the sport, joining Force volleyball out of Surrey and helping lead that team to provincial club titles the last three years.
“My sister played since she was in Grade 8 and she got me into it when I was about 11,” Makenzie said, noting she first suited up for the Force club in the U12 division. “Volleyball is really fun, and it gives me something to do.”
The Fraser Valley zone coach Duncan Harrison said Makenzie has been a great fit on the team, which formed earlier this month and has been practising twice weekly since.
“She’s been the starting setter at Force in Surrey for the last three years and they’ve won provincial titles with her on the team the last three years,” he said. “She’s an experienced kid, and will be a big help for us in the Games. To have somebody like her who has played in big games is huge for us, she’s seen and done it before and knows how to win.”
Makenzie said she was thrilled to join up with the team, and she likes her team’s chances heading into the Games.
“All the people on the team are all really nice and just the experience working with Duncan has been great,” she said. “He’s taught us a lot and it’s fun coming here and working with a bunch of new girls.”
She said her sister offered up some advice from her experience back in 2012.
“She loved building relationships with her teammates at the Games and she met one of her best friends during the Games,” she said. “She just told me to come to practice, work hard and have fun.”
Makenzie said her goal is to finish in the top three, but would love to bring home the gold – a goal that Harrison said is possible for this team. He said Fraser River/Delta, the Okanagan and Vancouver Island should all have strong teams at the Games.
“It’s exciting for the girls to have these Games in their backyard,” he said. “And I think it’s fun for the parents because they all get to see the girls compete.”
Harrison noted that team depth is a strength for the Fraser Valley team, which could be crucial as all players must start at least one set in every game and substitutions are not allowed until one team reaches 15 points.
He said it’s going to be a memorable experience for Makenzie and her teammates.
“My son competed in the Games four years ago and for him the experience was phenomenal,” Harrison said. “It’s the first time for a lot of these girls to be a part of something elite that is outside of their club or school teams. It’s going to be a lot of fun and the kids are all working hard to represent the Fraser Valley.”
The Games run from July 21 to 24 in Abbotsford, with all the girls volleyball competition occurring at the University of the Fraser Valley.