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Alphonse faces toughest challenge yet at Canada volleyball trials
After spending the winter season with the national training centre group in Winnipeg, Nadine Alphonse was thrilled to greet some familiar faces among the 50 players on hand on Monday for the first day of the women’s national volleyball team selection camp.
Several of those players, including Tammy Mahon, Sarah Pavan and Tiffany Dodds all playing professional volleyball in Europe this winter, were Alphonse’s teammates on last year’s national squad which competed at the World Championships in Japan.
With an Olympic qualification tournament capping this season, Alphonse knows it will be harder than ever to land a berth on the 2011 squad.
"We have a busy season highlighted by the Pan Ams and Olympic qualifying,’’ said Alphonse, 27. "So it’s a special year. It’s going to be a challenge to make this team. There are a lot of young players who have arrived here in great shape and have fine-tuned their technical game.’’
Playing a lot of matches this summer should help the Canadian squad in its Olympic qualification bid. Alphonse feels what the Canadian team lacks the most right now is game experience. ‘’We’ve got all the tools the other teams have,’’ she said.
On Monday, the players underwent various physical drills in the morning then had their first afternoon session on court.
"The first day is always stressful because you never know what to expect, especially with the physical drills’’ said Alphonse, a national team player since 2006 and a former standout middle with the Université de Montréal. "But once we got on court it was very exciting. Most of us haven’t seen each other in at least five months.’’
Alphonse only started playing volleyball at age 19. She spent 14 years in synchronized figure skating and was also track and field athlete excelling in the high jump and 400-meters. With the University of Montreal she won three provincial crowns and two seasons ago received the Therese Quigley award recognizing excellence in volleyball, academics and community involvement.
Born in Montreal, Alphonse’s parents are originally from Haiti and several of her family members were affected by last year’s devastating earthquake. Alphonse made three attempts to travel to Haiti last spring, but each time the flights were cancelled due to security concerns.
In addition to the selection of the Senior Women’s Team, the developmental ‘B Team’ will be chosen at this selection camp. The B Team will train in Winnipeg throughout July and compete on behalf of Canada in the 2011 World Universiade Games in Shenzhen China from Aug 12 to 23.