Local Sports: Samantha Gagnon’s volleyball background runs deep

Local Sports: Samantha Gagnon’s volleyball background runs deep

It wouldn’t be far off to say Samantha Gagnon was born to play volleyball.

Both her parents — Terry and Shelley — played the sport at a high level and while they didn’t push Samantha into the sport it was in her genes.

“I got involved in the sport when I was 12 and joined the U13 Central Alberta Queens Club team,” she explained. “I admit my first year wasn’t that great, but my parents encouraged me and I stuck with it, fell in love with it and the rest is history.”

Samantha’s dad played with the University of Manitoba Bisons and with the Canadian National team. He competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and also played professional volleyball for three years. Shelley (nee Brewster) was a star with the RDC Queens before playing two years at the University of Alberta, receiving the Pandas MVP award in the 1986-87 season.

“My parents helped me a lot,” said Samantha. “They have so much knowledge of the game … they really motivated me.”

Gagnon developed into one of the premier outside hitters in the Queens program and with the Notre Dame High School Cougars. Her skill level and leadership qualities earned her in invitation to join the UBC Okanagan Heat for next season.

She committed to the Kelowna, B.C. squad, along with Cougars teammate Jade Bussard.

“The process was put into motion about a year ago and I made the commitment last Fall,” said the 18-year-old from Red Deer.

“It was an easy decision. I wanted to play at the U-Sport level and I love the city and the weather. Their program is very competitive and has a highly regarded reputation.”

Gagnon plays primarily on the left side, but has played on right side.

“It doesn’t matter to me … wherever they want me, as long as I can play.

“I believe my strength is in the back row … serve receive and defence,” she added. “My hitting may not be as strong, but I love it and will work hard to keep improving. I love getting the kills and turning around and celebrating with my teammates. But also first contact and helping set up the play is as rewarding.”

Having Bussard along, helps as well.

“It makes it a little less scary,” she said.

Samantha had other options, including RDC.

“I dreamed of playing U-Sport … that was my No. 1 goal, but if it didn’t work out I would certainly looked at RDC. They have a great program and I’m kind of envious of the new facility.”

Gagnon, who took Grades 5 and 6 in Innisfail before switching to Red Deer, is in her seventh season with the Queens Club program.

“It’s an elite level, which helps in our development. I’ve worked with some excellent coaches including Chris (Queens head coach Wandler) and (two-time CCAA champion coach) Talbot Walton. You learn so much working with them.”

Gagnon and Bussard played with the Team Alberta U17 squad last season, helping them finish 11th at the USA High Performance Championship in Florida. This season the pair are with the U18 Queens program, which is one of the top teams in the province.

Samantha is also a talented musician, playing a number of instruments, and could have concentrated on music at a higher level, but says “volleyball is still my first love.”

She also excels in math and finances and will go into the Business program at UBCO.

‘I want to concentrate on my education as well and Business gives me a lot of options,” she concluded.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate.com

High School Volleyball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press file photo)
Police seeks suspects in Bowden armed robbery

Man was beaten and robbed of his wallet

Red Deer RCMP say Alexander King was last seen about a month ago. (Contributed)
Red Deer teen reported missing

RCMP ask for public’s assistance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says it’s not appropriate for former… Continue reading

More back-alley murals, such as this one behind Can-West Travel, will be painted this summer before the City of Red Deer holds it Meet the Street arts and culture festival in September. (Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer seeks more mural artists

Creating 10 more back-alley murals is the goal

Teachers with Centre-Nord School Division are holding a strike vote on Jan. 25 and 26. (Photo from Facebook)
Central Alberta teachers hold strike vote

Francophone teachers to cast votes

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

NDP member of Parliament Lindsay Mathyssen speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP warns of long delays in equal pay for women in federal pay equity rules

OTTAWA — The federal New Democrats say new rules to close a… Continue reading

President Joe Biden waves as he departs after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. Less than a week after the economic gut punch of cancelling Keystone XL, Canada is bracing for more bad news today from the White House. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Patrick Semansky
U.S. president to sign executive orders enacting stringent new Buy American regimen

WASHINGTON — Less than a week after the economic gut punch of… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

A 37-year-old man from Maskwacis has died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital Tuesday December 15, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian provinces push back vaccination plans as Pfizer deliveries grind to a halt

Some Canadian health-care workers are being told they’ll have to wait longer… Continue reading

A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London on January 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kirsty Wigglesworth
Shell buys European electric car charging firm ubitricity

Experts say easier access to charging facilities key to successful rollout of electric vehicles

FILE— In this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo, Vashti Cunningham poses for photographers after winning the women’s high jump final at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in New York. Cunningham is one of the athletes who will be competing in the American Track League, which opens a four-week-long series on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in an indoor setting at the University of Arkansas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez. File)
Back on track: Competing, not cash, lures big names to meet

American Track League begins a four-week indoor series at the University of Arkansas

Eugene Levy, left, and his son Dan Levy accept the Best Comedy Series Award for ‘“Schitt’s Creek” at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Dan Levy to make ‘Saturday Night Live’ hosting debut on Feb. 6

‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-creator to host show

Most Read