It took Jaclyn Neufeld a little extra time to get adjusted to college life, but once she did she’s been a major addition to the RDC Queens volleyball team.
Neufeld joined the Queens at the beginning of the 2008-09 season, but decided to red shirt as she got accustomed to the academic side of her nursing program.
“Coming out of a small school (Acme) I wasn’t sure how school would go,
“So I decided to ease into it and take it a little slower at first,” she explained.
Queens head coach Talbot Walton knew the Neufeld would fit in nicely with the Queens, but agreed that she shouldn’t push things.
“Because of her academic load she and I decided it was best she concentrate on her schooling until she felt at ease and it was under control,” he said.
“We then sat down for a brief meeting at Christmas and agreed it was time for her to start playing more.”
Neufeld not only joined the team, but got a lot of playing time as the Queens won the provincial championship and competed in the nationals, finishing fourth.
“I got a chance to play a lot in both the provincials and nationals, so it was definitely a big change for me from the beginning of the year to the end,” she said. “It was also a change because Acme is so small and then coming to college and playing at a high level and still doing well was nice.”
Neufeld had a solid volleyball backgound as her dad played at SAIT and got her into the sport at an early age. She also played club volleyball with the Calgary Dinos, one of the top programs in the province.
It was her dad who told Walton about Jaclyn.
“He called the summer before she arrived and told me she was registered,” he explained. “I did a little background on her and saw that she was very athletic, very good offensively and big at the net.
The five-foot-11 Neufeld did play middle blocker in junior high, but has mainly played power hitter.
“I also played some libero in Grade 11 when I had a knee injury and couldn’t jump,” explained the 19-year-old. “But that helps me as playing power I need to pass a lot.”
Neufeld is one of four power hitters on the Queens with All-Canadian Katie Graves filling one of the two starting spots and Neufeld, Jill Folkard and Robyn Denney battling for the second spot.
“It’s good to have the competition as it makes us compete at practice and in games,” said Neufeld, who is third on the team in kills behind right side Jessica Clutton and Graves.
“It’s definitely a battle on the left side, it depends on who’s playing well and we’re playing,” said Walton. “But Jac gives us offence as she has a very good arm, is a big blocker and jumps well with a good reach.
Neufeld will be at RDC for two more seasons and will be counted on to be a leader, something she’s looking forward to.
“That’s something I like as I was used to it in high school. I like to be the person they can lean on. It helps when I have that role and have to step up and be a leader.”
Neufeld helps she can help the Queens return to the nationals.
“We weren’t satisfied with our finish last year and want to win a medal, preferably gold,” she said. “But then we have to get there first. We know teams will challenge us and we have to play well to win.”
The Queens are first in the Provincial Pool with a 7-1 record heading into the final weekend of league play with Mount Royal at 5-3. They face SAIT, 4-4, tonight at 6 p.m. and Saturday in Calgary.
They need at least one win to finish first and go into the provincials seeded No. 1.
The Kings, 7-1, also go into the home-and-home series with SAIT, 5-3, in first place, but need a sweep to secure first place as Mount Royal sits at 6-2.
• The basketball squads host Medicine Hat in a weekend doubleheader. The women tip off Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. with the men to follow.
It’s a huge weekend for the Queens, who need to sweep the twin bill and win by more than nine points if they hope to make the post season.
The Queens are 5-11 with MHC at 7-9.
The Kings, 10-6, are third in the South Division with Medicine Hat at 3-13.
• The hockey Queens have a home-and-home series against the NAIT Ooks — Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and Friday in Edmonton.
The Queens are tied with Grant MacEwan for fourth place with 18 points, two points back of NAIT.
• It was a big week for RDC basketball Kings Chris Porteous, who was named the Moxie’s Classic Grill RDC athlete of the week and the ACAC male athlete of the week.
Hockey Queens rookie winger Montana Noyes received the female RDC athlete of the week.