Keeping focus is the key for Jenessa Babcock.
The Grade 10 student at EDSS lives a very busy and active life balancing her school work and the numerous sporting teams she belongs to.
Over the winter, Babcock plays hockey as she has done for the last four years and in the summer months she takes to the soccer pitch to play for a Woolwich rep soccer team.
But it was two years ago that Babcock found a sport she fell in love with when she was introduced to volleyball, the sport that changed everything for her.
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“I find the sport really interesting. I enjoy the teamwork and working together and I thrive on the pressure,” she said while sitting on her family’s backyard deck. “Of course there is nothing like having a crowd cheer for your team, it can really get you pumped up.”
During her first year of high school she tried out for the junior volleyball team and now plays with the Waterloo Tigers U17 B team. The team has competed in four major tournaments in the last year, including the Provincial Cup and the Challenge Cup, where the girls finished fifth.
This weekend her volleyball team is travelling to Pennsylvania to compete in the Happy Volley tournament held at Penn State University, where the team will be living in the school dorms.
“This is very exciting. I have never travelled this far for a sporting event and to get a chance to stay and compete at Penn State is unbelievable,” said Babcock.
A multi-purpose player, Babcock usually plays as her team’s right side hitter but is willing to play any position to help out her team.
“I can do it all, except for middle blocker because I am not tall enough for that,” she laughed.
Standing at 5’2” Babcock is definitely not your average volleyball player but she doesn’t let her smaller stature keep her from playing the game she loves.
“When you see shorter volleyball players they can sometimes jump higher, perform better and are usually a lot more aggressive than taller players. It seems that the shorter ones just have something to prove because they have got a slight disadvantage and she really does work when she is on that court,” said Natalie Brown, Babcock’s mother.
The tournament is a three-day event starting Saturday (today) and depending on how well the team does they could play in the finals on Monday.
“It is exciting to play in the tournament but I think it is really neat to be staying in the dorms at the Penn State. I’ll be getting a real university feel.”
As for the team’s chances at the tournament, Babcock admits they may not be the best team but the squad works hard on the court and plays to the best of their abilities.
“We play really well together. The first time I joined the team I didn’t know who anyone was but within a week or two of playing everyone was getting along perfectly, no one argues and there are no divas on the team.”
Babcock said she doesn’t feel any pressure or feel nervous when her team enters tournaments. However when it comes to game time she focuses on the task at hand making sure she gives her team 110 per cent.
“Tournaments are exciting and I love to play the game, but win or lose it is just great to play and getting a chance to play at a university with the reputation that Penn State has is unbelievable.”
She is looking forward to playing all the different teams from the United States at the tournament and the team has been working hard at practices so they can represent Canada well at the event.
Keeping a healthy balance between her school life, sport life and social life can be tricky but as long as she stays firm to her commitments Babcock says it usually all pays off.
“I enjoy being active, I would rather have a tight schedule than not have anything to do but it can get a little crazy at times.”
Babcock is very active in school as well volunteering to help the boys’ volleyball team as a scorekeeper and line judge. She will also be taking part in the Tinman Triathlon next week which will see her swimming, running and biking around Elmira.
“Being active keeps me from being bored and I hate being bored. Volleyball is just another way to stay active and I love playing the sport.”
“This is an unbelievable experience for her. A lot of kids her age don’t get to have this kind of opportunity. I think this just shows you if you work hard, be it at school or in a sport, you never know where you can end up in the big picture,” said Brown. “I am hoping this experience gives her a push in the right direction in both her academics and her sports.”