June 23, 2014 – Kelly Nyhof is one of the most decorated Humber Hawks of all time. Now, she’s decked out in Team Canada colours.
The Humber College graduate capped an impressive 2014 when she was recently named to Canada’s National Women’s Volleyball “A” Team.
Last season, Nyhof led the Hawks to their fifth consecutive Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championship appearance, where she was once again named an All Canadian.
Being named to Team Canada’s “A” team is a dream come true for Nyhof.
“I never dreamed I’d be where I am today, playing for the national team and getting to wear the Maple Leaf on my chest,” said Nyhof. “It’s such an honour to be recognized as one of the top players in Canada and get to represent my country playing the sport that I love.”
Last summer, Nyhof suited up for Canada’s “B” squad at the 2013 FISU Games in Russia. With that came the opportunity to practice with the “A” team girls, which gave her invaluable experience.
“It allowed me to get a feel for where I needed to be (in order) to be a member of the “A” team,” said Nyhof. “There are a few players on the team with a ton of experience internationally and that really brings up the level of practices and it motivated me to really focus and dial into drills each day.”
Nyhof admits she was intimidated when she first got the chance to play with our country’s top female players – most coming from “big name” universities. “Myself, along with one other girl, had come from the CCAA and being an athlete from a college to make the team wasn’t common,” she said. “So I already felt like I was at a disadvantage because CIS is a different level than the CCAA.”
Despite feeling slightly out of place at first, Nyhof believes it pushed her to work that much harder. One player who made an immediate impact on her was veteran Marisa Field.
“Reese”, as her teammates call her, was there for Nyhof one day in particular, when the rookie was struggling with a drill in practice. “The sets were extremely fast and I just could not get the speed for the blocking,” said Nyhof. Field, who is also a middle blocker, shared some great technical advice with her and also encouraged her to not get frustrated.
“That was two years ago and it stuck with me ever since,” said Nyhof, who was more than happy to listen to an experienced pro with 73 international matches on her resume.
Now, the two are good friends and will actually be roommates this summer. “It’s wonderful to have someone on the team that I really look up to as a player and am close with as a friend,” said Nyhof.
Now a much more confident player, Nyhof is resetting her goals once again. She would love to make the travel roster and eventually become one of the starting middles.
Recently, the National Team qualified for the World Championships for the first time since 2010. With the 2016 Olympics right around the corner, Team Canada is now thinking big.
“It provides our team with hope that we’re making great strides to our biggest goal of playing at the Olympics,” said Nyhof. “It puts us one step closer to achieving that goal and gives us an opportunity to see us play at our best and what we need to do to get to where we want to be.”
With high quality athletes coming in each summer to train, the National Team is only getting stronger according to Nyhof. “If we continue to work hard and follow our plan for success, I strongly believe we’ll be at the 2016 Olympics,” she said.
Wherever the future takes Nyhof, you can be sure she won’t soon forget her friends at Humber College. She has nothing but great memories of her teammates, coaches and many other Humber athletic staff members. “Those relationships I built over the five years I was there are definitely my fondest memories,” she said.
Nyhof feels fortunate to have played for the same coaching staff during her entire career at Humber and she is thankful for their support and tough love at times. “They challenged me to be the best version of myself on and off the court,” she said.
“I had opportunities to play elsewhere while I was at Humber and each year I chose, without hesitation, to play for Humber because the minute I walked into that gym they became my second family.”
Nyhof, a native of Georgetown, Ontario, also acknowledges the role the CCAA had in her career.
“Each year, the CCAA motivated me to do my best and make it to the National Championship,” said Nyhof. Despite never winning a CCAA title, five straight appearances at nationals is an incredible accomplishment, one very few can say they’ve achieved.
“Without the CCAA, the goals would have been limited for sure,” said Nyhof. “But with the CCAA, it gave us something further to try and accomplish throughout the season; it gave us an end goal.”
The CCAA is a national sport organization that enriches the lives of student-athletes through intercollegiate competition.