Coming out of high school in Lacombe there was some talk about Naomi Jardine joining the RDC Queens volleyball team.
One of the reasons for such talk was that her father, Ted, played hockey with the RDC Kings.
But that didn’t turn out. It was a better opportunity for her to join the Olds Broncos, coached at that time by present-day Queens head coach Chris Wandler.
“It worked out for me there and I had a great time,” said the 22-year-old. “I loved the girls and loved Wandler.”
Now four years later Jardine finds herself with the Queens and Wandler.
“It seemed everything worked out to bring me here,” said the five-foot-nine power hitter, who took business at Olds, but switched to education
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and took open studies my first year in Olds,” she explained.
“Then I just kind of went with business, although I didn’t like it that much. Since then a lot of things fell into place for me to come to RDC.”
Jardine spent three years with the Broncos, turning into one of the premier hitters in the conference.
Last year she didn’t play at all.
“I needed a break, my body needed a break, so I took the year off and focused on my studies. I also wanted to see if I’d miss it and I missed it. As well they have a real good education program here.”
Naomi finds herself in a battle for playing time on a deep left side, led by fifth-year all-star Miranda Dawe.
“We have a lot of depth, but it will be great … we all push each other and we all like each other. I’m happy to play whatever role they put me in. I’m here for the team.”
Wandler couldn’t be happier to see Jardine in camp.
“She gives us a lot of depth and experience. Not that we’re short on experience, but she’s a real giving person and knows the environment and will accept whatever role we put her in.”
Not only will Jardine fit into the left side, but will act as backup libero to Kaylee Domoney.
“She gives us that flexibility,” said Wandler, who made it easier for Jardine to switch to RDC.
“It did, it made it easier to communicate with him when I wanted to come back, although I did know (former Queens coach) Talbot (Walton) as well.”
Jardine says she used the three years in Olds to grow as a player.
“As I got older I focused more on defence and passing … to be more consistent as well as being positive in leading the team. There’s a definite difference between my first year (in 2013-14) and now. I am more consistent and mindful on what’s going on.”
To show Jardine’s ability to adapt and grow as a player was that she didn’t even play the left side until Grade 12.
“I was a setter in high school and club (in Lacombe),” she said. “But one year we had some other great setters and needed a left side so I switched.”
As a left side she’s expected to be one of the team’s leading passers and defenders.
“That’s something I pride myself in … to be consistent at the left side, which consists of being solid on defence and serve receive.”
Wandler will use the RDC tournament this weekend to assess his talent and eventually decide on who will start on the left side besides Dawe.
Jardine and Dawe joins Katrina Dawe, Jade Van Dyke and impressive rookie Alyson Bain from Innisfail, on the left side. Brittney Davis plays both the left and right sides.
“A lot of depth … the toughest part will be finding enough playing time for them all,” said Wandler.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org