CALGARY — Her surname is Froese, as in close, as in rose, as in . . . sand in the toes.
Robyn Froese has arguably been the most dynamic rookie to date this season for the SAIT Trojans women’s volleyball team — playing both the right side and setter, adding to the Women of Troy’s offensive arsenal, and acting as a stabilizing force on the court.
The secret to her versatility? A passion for beach volleyball, dude.
“My defence has definitely benefited from playing beach,” says Froese, 18, of Red Deer, who’s taking business administration. “When there’s only two players, and you’re playing in sand, it’s a little harder, and you have to move a little quicker and anticipate a lot more.
“And I’m not the tallest player, so by playing beach, you learn a lot of shots, and you think more about where you’re going to put the ball,” adds the five-foot-nine Froese. “That helps me score more points, despite not being the biggest hitter on the floor indoors.”
Froese won a provincial U18 beach volleyball title at Edmonton in August, partnering with current Trojans teammate Presley Mills. Coincidentally, Mills was one of her opponents in the championship final at Medicine Hat when Froese won the beach volleyball crown during the 2008 Alberta Summer Games.
Mills, Froese, and fellow Trojan recruit Emily Krywitsky all played together with Calgary’s High Performance Volleyball Club last season, winning an Alberta Volleyball Association (AVA) U18 provincial silver medal in Edmonton in May.
But Froese’s background in beach proved even more of an incentive for second-year Trojans head coach Diane Bugler to pursue the Lindsay Thurber High School graduate.
“Beach is definitely a game where there’s nowhere to hide,” says Bugler, “so you have to have all of your skills equally developed. And that’s definitely an asset of Robyn’s that we’ve been able to use. She’s had to do everything for us, basically, as a hitter and a setter.
“Beach also helps develop a good sense of court awareness, which you normally see in older players, more mature players who’ve been playing longer. But coming from the beach, Robyn already has a really good sense of what the other team is doing, knowing where to place the ball, and possessing different shots in her repertoire that she can make.”
It also hasn’t hurt that Froese grew up in a sporting household where volleyball rivaled hockey as a pastime of choice. Robyn’s mom Marge (nee Fehr) played a season for the Grande Prairie College Wolves, and was Robyn’s first coach at the junior high school level.
Robyn’s older brother Darcee is a second-year setter, left side and right side for the RDC Kings . . . and, as it so happens, both Robyn and Darcee were recently named athletes of the week at their respective schools for the weekend of Nov. 12 and 13.
“I grew up around volleyball. I think it was almost expected that I would play, but at the same time, it was something that I always wanted to do, from watching my brother play,” says Robyn.
With her versatile resume, pedigree, and background in winning programs, Froese has exceeded the Trojans’ expectations to date. “I’ve tried to work hard to gain a (starting) spot, and I think it’s paid off,” she says.
Todd Kimberly is the media consultant for the SAIT Trojans