Coming into a new program there’s always an adjustment period, no matter how much experience an athlete has.
Erin Neufeldt went through that when she joined the RDC Queens volleyball squad this season after two years with the SAIT Trojans.
“It’s tough at first, it takes time to get your footing when you join a new team,” said the five-foot-eight outside hitter. “You have to find how you fit in and not step on any toes.”
But with her magnetic personality it didn’t take long for the 21-year-old Calgary native to feel comfortable both on and off the court.
‘We have a great team with a great group of girls,” she added. “We all get along on and off the court and it shows.”
Queens head coach Chris Wandler has to smile when talking about Neufeldt.
“She’s an awesome person and talking with SAIT’s head coach he raves about her. Good people make good Queens.”
Erin has a solid volleyball background, having played club ball with the Dinos and high school at William Aberhart.
“They’re both good programs and it makes a difference in how you view the game and how you interact with your teammates. There’s always different personalities on a team,” she said.
Upon graduating Erin looked at going the university route, but “I was just a little too short. And then SAIT coach contacted me, which turned out to be great.”
But after two years and wanting to get into nursing Erin had to move on and Red Deer was a perfect fit.
“Red Deer had a very competitive team. I know when I was at SAIT we always enjoyed playing against them (Queens) because it was a very competitive level. As well I like the school and community and getting into nursing meant I couldn’t take any more classes at SAIT.
“I knew they have a phenomenal nursing program here and with the team being at this competitive level it tied it all together for me.”
Nursing can be a demanding program.
“Jade (Van Dyke) is also in nursing so we work together which certainly helps,” said Neufeldt. “It’s a big load and the second and third years will be even heavier, so it’s good to have good people around to work with.”
Neufeldt opened the season on the right side, although she’s always played power.
“We thought with her jumping ability and blocking she could make the switch, but with Emma (Holmes) coming along and finding her game we needed to find a spot for Erin and that was moving her back to the left side,” said Wandler. “She’s a very physical player and it took a while to adjust to a new team, but she’s come along and fit in nicely.
“We knew she could play at a consistent high level and she’s done just that.”
Erin’s also involved in one of the most competitive battles on the team, going up against Van Dyke, Katrina Dawe and Britt Davis for a starting spot.
“It’s very competitive and we all have to fight for playing time,” she said. “We battle every practice, but it’s good. We push each other and we all bring something different to the table. The coaches can use any of us depending on who we’re playing and what we need on that day.”
Whether she’s playing or not Erin provides leadership to a relatively young team.
“We don’t have anyone over third-year, so we are one of the younger teams in the conference,” she said. “Being one of the older girls is a bit odd, but that’s okay.”
“She provides leadership by example,” said Wandler. “She’s not a big talker but communicates well and does her job … she’s good at that job and we’re very happy how she’s progressed.”
Asked about what she enjoys playing the most — defence or offence — Erin has to smile.
“I take a lot of pride in my offence. As for defence Kaylee (libero Domoney) has it all covered,” she said with a laugh.
Neufeldt has already played a big role in the Queens success this season and will for two more seasons.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org