Joelle Laforce will be leaving behind the Lindsay Thurber Raiders for the Eastern Illinois University Panthers.
The senior volleyball middle blocker signed a four-year academic and volley scholarship on Friday.
“It’s always been my dream to go to school in the States and play volleyball and do what I love to do,” said Laforce, 17, who will study at the Charleston, Ill. post-secondary institution to become a dietitian.
Laforce was a top draft pick and said she was hoping to land at Eastern Illinois because of its academic reputation, besides having a great volleyball program.
Lindsay Thurber won their second straight gold at the 4A Alberta Schools Athletic Association Provincial Championships in November, and Laforce played both years the team won.
Before that she was on the junior varsity high school team. She started playing volleyball in Grade 7 for the Rebels Volleyball Club out of Calgary and eventually caught the eye of scouts for Eastern Illinois University while playing with the Rebels in Las Vegas.
Kirsten Dezutter, senior women’s volleyball coach at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, said Laforce has been a total pleasure to coach.
“Joelle is really an exciting player to watch. She’s a phenomenal teammate. She’s super kind, super encouraging, and works super hard in practice always to improve,” Dezutter said.
“As a coach to see your athletes pursue their volleyball career beyond high school, it’s pretty exciting.”
Past notable volleyball players out of Lindsay Thurber include Julie Young and Jaimie Thibeault who both went on to play for Team Canada.
Dezutter said several Lindsay Thurber players over the years have gone on to play at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and other members of this year’s provincial championship team are also signed up to play university volleyball.
“Laforce was a starter. She had a really great supporting cast too so we’re lucky. We have a very strong team.”