Chatelech Secondary School senior volleyball team captain Grace Brisebois has been hand-picked to join Capilano University’s varsity team in September.
The six-foot-tall Grade 12 student played right side for Chatelech and is expected to maintain that position at Cap U, and possibly middle – positions that combine hitting, blocking and defensive elements.
“Grace has the height, skill and athleticism we are looking to add to our current group at Cap U,” said head coach Rob Gowe.
It’s been at least a decade since a Chatelech student has gone on to play post-secondary volleyball, according to Chatelech principal Mark Sauer, who also coaches for Sunshine Coast Volleyball Club (SCVC).
“This is a great accomplishment for one of our athletes.”
The opportunity “was kind of out of the blue,” Brisebois told Coast Reporter.
Gowe first approached her at a provincial tournament in 2019 and then invited her to practise with the team. Shortly after, she signed a letter of intent.
“It’s always super stressful trying to find a team, but knowing that Capilano was a good fit for me and has the program I wanted … it was just a relief to know I have a place to go to next year,” Brisebois said.
She plans to pursue a diploma in Kinesiology at the North Vancouver campus.
Grace began playing at Chatelech in Grade 8 and by Grade 9 was playing for the school’s senior team, as it developed. She captained the team in Grade 11 and 12. In both years Chatelech made it to the Lower Mainland playoffs but did not proceed to provincials.
For Sauer, a broader achievement is the fact that Brisebois and other players manage to develop into elite athletes without leaving the Sunshine Coast.
Growing up in a volleyball-friendly family helped Brisebois, by giving her “a pretty high volleyball IQ,” according to Gowe, who coached her older sister at the club level. Their father, Elphinstone Secondary principal John Brisebois, is a former elite volleyball player and coaches for SCVC – a club Grace also plays for.
Last year, 13 people tried out for SCVC’s U17 team. The club took 12. Compare that to the Lower Mainland, where “most club teams will have 100 to 150 kids try out,” Sauer said. The U17 SCVC finished fifth in the province in 2019.
“These girls are getting some quality coaching… There is opportunity on the Coast to be competitive,” he said.
That includes Jan Richey, a former national level player, who runs SCVC and whose daughter, Kyla Richey, is Canada’s senior team captain. “Her dedication to keeping the club team always alive has been huge,” Brisebois said.
Grace will be joining another Sunshine Coast athlete – second year student Hannah Shelemey, a five-foot-eight outside hitter who attended Elphinstone Secondary School.