2023 International Women’s Day

On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is Embrace Equity.

One brand new initiative we launched this year is Volleyball BC’s female mentorship program. The program saw female coaches and referees in their early careers learn from skilled, experienced coaches and referees. One of the program’s key goals was to support our young coaches/referees in their growth and development in the sport.

We talked to a few of our coaches and referees and asked them the following questions:

Gina Schmidt (SFU Women’s Volleyball team Head Coach)

Q: What inspired you to get into volleyball?

A: I grew up in a small town playing almost every sport you can imagine. I also had three older siblings who played volleyball, so I got introduced to the sport pretty early. As I got older and had to start narrowing down where I spent my time, I found I loved the team aspect of volleyball. I was also fortunate to have a lot of great coaches and, consequently, to be a part of many successful teams and this made it very easy to be motivated to continue on in the sport.

Q: What advice would you give to young women in sport?

A: I think we can learn a lot of great life lessons through sport. Things won’t always be easy but it’s the hard work that leads to growth and improvement that makes it rewarding and worthwhile. It’s also important to remember that sports are meant to be fun and we should never lose our joy for the game.

Tova Rae (Coach, Volleyball Canada)

Q: What inspired you to get into volleyball?

What inspired me to get into volleyball as a player was going to camp and being coached by the UBC women’s team. They were so fun and engaging, and seeing their bonds as teammates and friends made me want to keep coming back to be in the gym with them. The volleyball part was probably secondary to the relationships and empowerment.As a coach, I continued to be in the gym because I think it’s important to share from my experiences. I have played for a number of coaches, some who have made strong impacts for reasons better than others and I want to continue to be part of shifting sport culture to be athlete centered, rather than coach centered. Empowering young women to do the same for others will always be a big priority for me.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve been given so far in your young sports career? 

The best advice I’ve been given in my sports career is to “get comfortable being uncomfortable”. That advice came from Doug Reimer (UBC) when I was a young athlete and it’s just so applicable to so many different situations. Growth happens through discomfort, whether that’s in physically being on the court or in the weight room in pursuit of achieving performance-related goals, or even just in seeking out new opportunities to continue learning and growing (as an athlete or a coach).

Staci Proctor (Coach, LV Rodgers Secondary)

Q: What inspired you to get into volleyball?

I was inspired to get into volleyball because I grew up in a small town in the Kootenays (Nelson) and there was always a strong program at Mount Sentinel so I wanted to compete against them. I always loved playing on a sports team for the camaraderie, the enjoyment of competing and the love of the game… the cute boys at the tournaments helped too!

Ironically, I met my husband playing in a beach volleyball tournament back in 1992 in Nelson. It was love at first “spike” and we have been together ever since, married for 23 years and we have 3 teenaged kids and our daughter, Atlyn loves to play now too and has National team goals.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve been given so far in your sports career? 

The best advice I was given is to never give up. When I first started playing at the Jr high in grade 7 I was horrible and was on the D team. I trained hard to improve my skills and hit the gym with weights and made the high school team in grade 10… but I didn’t play much as I was mostly shagging balls ha ha. I didn’t give up and went on to make Team BC in 1988 and was named the most improved player in grade 12 and we finally beat Mount Sentinel! After graduation, I got a scholarship to play at Langara and Douglas College and then went on to play at UBC for two years, followed by Switzerland for 6 years with my husband.
Volleyball has been very good to me over the years and I wanted to put something back into the sport so I created a volleyball academy at the Jr high school that I used to go to where I now teach and have been coaching there for over 20 years inspiring young girls and boys to follow their dreams and never give up. I now coach my 16 year old daughter at the high school and U18 Kootenay Bombers club!

Liz Yoon (Referee)

Q: What inspired you to get into volleyball?

It was a sport I felt comfortable with & was pretty good at in middle school but didn’t joined a team until high school. I had positive experiences & good people – teammates, older players, coaches & teachers – who supported my journey in the game. It was a lot of fun & so I stuck around. I knew I was too short to play after high school so I decided to pursue officiating to stay in the game. Also, I thought officiating would be a good part time job & a way to meet new people. 

Q: What advice would you give to young women in sport?

YOU CAN TOTALLY DO IT! (If you want). The journey is not easy but if this is your passion, follow your heart (BELIEVE IN YOURSELF), surround yourself with good people who support you (inside & outside of your sport) and do the work. You will be successful.