Talk with Ali Greenshields and you immediately see why she’s a perfect fit for the RDC Queens volleyball team.
She has an infectious smile and personality and combined with a high level of talent you see why she’s worked her way into the starting lineup at middle blocker.
“I love being positive on the court … I hate being negative and even when we’re trailing it’s important to have a smile,” said the 18-year-old Notre Dame grad.
Queens head coach Chris Wandler was familiar with Ali as he teaches at Notre Dame and has watched her with the high school Cougars and Queens Club program.
“She’s a great person, who brings that excitement and fun level of compete,” he said. “She’s a great teammate and fits well into the culture of our group.
“I really wanted her, first of all, because of the people piece plus she’s developed to a point where she’s going to be a very good college player.”
Ali, who is one of eight first-year players on the Queens, including five from Red Deer and Megan Steenbergen from Sylvan Lake, started on the bench, but has been in the starting lineup the last four games.
“When I first got here I didn’t know what to expect as I knew Sidney (Rix) but didn’t know the other middles,” said the five-foot-10 Greenshields. “But I kept pushing for that spot and although I was up against bigger girls I felt I could definitely start and I’m comfortable doing with it. Hopefully I can keep it.”
While the Queens have depth in the middle, Ali has made an impression. In fact she’s fifth in the ACAC in blocks per set (0.73) and is fourth on the team with 1.41 kills per set prior to RDC travelling to Olds Thursday.
They host Olds tonight.
“Ali impressed me with her skill set and she, along with the other first-year players, really contribute to the team in their own ways,” said Wandler, who credits not only the high school coaches but U18 Queens Club coach Miles Kydd for the development of the local players.
Greenshields started playing volleyball in Grade 6 at St. Francis and got into the club program at the U15 level.
“My parents played volleyball, so I came from a volleyball family,” she said. “Once I got into it I loved it.”
She played both volleyball and ringette and in the end volleyball won out.
“It was tough playing both and in Grade 10 I dropped ringette.”
She played one year of club then broke her ankle and missed most of the U16 season.
“I was lucky to play some with Sylvan Lake (Club) as they were missing one of their middles, so that helped,” she added.
Ali played the U17 and U18 seasons with the Queens, and registered to attend RDC, even before she agreed to play with the Queens.
“In Grade 12 I was really enjoying it and wanted to continue on,” she said. “And when Chris asked me, and considering I was going to RDC anyway, I jumped at it and figured I’d go for it.”
Like any rookie it was a learning process.
“One of the major differences is I was used to playing against players my age so here there’s older players and other players on my own team who I look up to, who are teaching me.
“But then you’re always learning. It doesn’t matter if you are the best you’re learning.”
On the whole the Queens are learning together as they lost their complete starting six from last year.
“We’re young but coming together,” said Greenshields. “There’s a lot of competition with the vets fighting to keep their starting spots with the rookies creeping up on them, but it makes for good competition and we work harder. Off the court we’re all comfortable with each otter and really get along.”
Greenshields isn’t sure what she wants to major in so is taking open studies this year, which means she’ll be around for a while, which has to make everyone smile.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org