Falling in love with volleyball: Red Deer high school student chooses court over ice

Growing up it could have been tough for Kira Weddell to know exactly what sport to pursue.

After all her mother, Jackie, played volleyball, including at RDC, while her dad, Rob, was into hockey and coached at various levels, including the RDC Queens.

But Kira was never pushed one way or another.

“They let me take whatever road I wanted and to play what I wanted,” explained the 15-year-old Lindsay Thurber Grade 10 student.

Kira got into hockey when she was “six or seven” then started in volleyball in Grade 6. She also played soccer, basketball, competed in track and field and field hockey.

She played hockey through her first year of bantam AAA, then committed to volleyball.

“At that point I either had to strictly commit to hockey and nothing else, but I loved volleyball and went that way,” she said.

She stressed that her parents supported her no matter which way she went.

“They were big supporters, still are,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of support.”

One is her club coach Miles Kydd of the Alberta Sports Development Centre — Central.

“He coached me and has been instrumental in helping me develop technically,” said the five-foot-11, middle blocker.

Kydd is one of Weddell’s biggest supporters.

“She’s definitely not afraid to work hard,” he said. “She’s really strong, has a great attitude and wants to be good. She’s a good server and is quick on the offensive side. She needs to work on her blocking and defence, but she’s still 15 and that will come when she gets older and more experienced.

“Sometimes I have to remind myself she’s only 15,” said Kydd, who has recommended Weddell for the provincial U16 team.

She has been involved with the Queens Volleyball Club for several years and is currently with the U17 program, one of the best teams in the province. The Queens finished sixth in the Pandas U18 invitational meet and fourth in the U17-U18 Volleyball Alberta Southern tournament.

Weddell knows a thing or two about winning, and what it takes to be successful, as she played for the LTCHS Raiders, who finished second in the provincial high school 4A tournament.

“That was a great experience,” she said. “Disappointing to finish second, but we lost to a good team.”

The Raiders, with coach Kirsten deZutter, will be strong next season as Weddell is one of several younger players on the team.

“We have several younger girls and Kirsten is a really good coach,” said Weddell, who has always played middle blocker and hopes to continue to do so.

“But I’ll keep my options open … I’ll play wherever they ask.”

She feels her strength is on the offensive side.

“I have good tempo and can read the block quickly and beat the block before it can set up. I do need to continue to work defensively.”

Although she’s not even finished Grade 10 Kira knows she would like to get into veterinary medicine and play volleyball at college or university.

She doesn’t rule out attending RDC.

“I could take a couple of years there before I had to move,” she explained. “We’ll see what happens, but I would like to continue playing volleyball.”

She even has her sights set for years down the road.

“I would love to play for Team Canada or professionally in Europe.”

Coming out of LTCHS that’s not far-fetched with former Raiders, Julie Young and Jaimie Thibeault, both making the national team and playing professionally.

“Julie talked with our (high school) team at the provincials and I’ve met Jaimie before,” Kira said.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@bprda.wpengine.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca

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