Kamloops, BC—The growth of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball program has taken another step in the right direction.
The WolfPack and head coach Chad Grimm are pleased to announce their signing of Sarah Dobinson of Ontario. The 6’0″ left side Dobinson is considered to be one of the top high school recruits in the country. She attends Donald A. Wilson Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario.
“I first started talking to Sara last January,” said Grimm of his recruit. “A friend of mine who coaches in the U.S. had been to a couple of ID camps and sent me some information. When we went to CIS nationals in Toronto last spring I met with her and her mom.”
Dobinson didn’t play school volleyball in grade 11, instead electing to drive an hour and a half for club practice. Both teams practiced and played on the same nights. Her decision paid off as her club team finished second at the Ontario 17U provincials and second at the 18 U provincials. They also finished second at Nationals fo the Durham Attack.
“Sarah is a dynamic player,’ Grimm explains. ” She is physically strong. She is able to elevate and she has something that a lot of girls don’t have in terms of arm speed. She has a very fast arm. She has a background playing baseball which I believe helps her hit the ball with a lot of velocity and is able to terminate the play. She also has a lot of club experience and other skills that translate into her having the potential to be a very, very good CIS player.”
She was also a member of Team Ontario (red) who finished second at the 2015 National Team Challenge Cup where they lost to BC in Finals. Dobinson says the intense training leading up to Nationals helped her improve as an athlete. “It was definitely an eye opening experience to see the level of competition at the national level”.
Dobinson paid a visit to Kamloops after the Club Nationals last May in Calgary. “I chose TRU because even though it is across the country, I felt like it was home. The coaches (Chad Grimm and Nathan Bennett) are amazing. That really influenced my decision. They are so supportive and it’s really obvious that they put the athlete’s needs before anything, which is important to me. It’ll be a five hour plane ride from my house to Kamloops. There is also so much that TRU offers to ensure their students are well rounded. I was really anxious to make a decision about where I was going to go for post-secondary education, once I arrived in Kamloops and saw TRU I knew that is where I wanted to be.”
She will be taking courses towards achieving a Bachelor of Arts in English or history. She has an eye to entering law school eventually. “TRU now has its own law school which was also a very influential factor in my decision.”
Grimm believes Dobinson is coming in at a good time and will have a year to work alongside CIS and Canada West all-star Iuliia Pakhomenko (Dontesk, Ukraine) who will be in her fifth year. ” I think she will be in a similar position to Iullia as a person we will look to as a scoring leader for us. Iuliia will be a good mentor for her in that way. She can see what you have to do to get to that level. Iuliia is a great example of the work she puts in the gym and the competitor that she is that has allowed her to be successful. I definitely think it is good for someone like Sarah coming in to see what it takes to be successful at the next level.”
Grimm felt Dobinson adjusted well when meeting some of her future teammates (Pakhomenko, Morgan Kolasa (Calgary, AB) and Tori Taneda (Kelowna, BC) during her visit this summer. That’s something she agrees with. ” I am positive that it will be a very fun and competitive team to be on. All three of them were so nice, welcoming and fun to be around. They seemed very excited about having me as a potential teammate which took a lot of the anxiety out of making my decision.”
As far as looking ahead to play in the CIS, Dobinson says: ” I do believe that it will be huge step from my high school and provincial team. Girls are physically more mature, stronger, faster, smarter and possibly quite a bit older. They have been playing the game longer. Physically, it will be hard in the beginning, but I think the biggest part of the transition will be mental. At first, I am going to be blocked and not be at the same level as the current university players are at, but as long as I am determined, driven, and understand that I will reach their level eventually, everything will turn out for the best.”
She adds: “I am very excited to be part of the WolfPack, only another 10 months to wait. I want to thank everyone I met at TRU, you all made my decision a lot easier. I know I made the right decision.”
The WolfPack will be making more recruit announcements in the coming weeks for the 2016-17 CIS season.