Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball program appears to be getting stronger and stronger. Head coach Chad Grimm and the ‘Pack are announcing that they have secured the services of outside hitter Rachel Windhorst of Surrey, BC.
Windhorst played the last two seasons in the AUS (Atlantic University Sport) while attending St. Mary’s University.
She has been at TRU since September and has been red shirting while she is taking Environmental Studies with some geography courses at Thompson Rivers.
“ I am excited to come home and play in the Canada West,” said Windhorst. “I had a great experience on the East Coast and living on my own. I feel the Canada West will give me more of a challenge.”
The 5’11 graduate of Surrey Christian School was named a 2014-15 CIS first team all-star. That year she was fourth in the nation in kills per set (3.73), seventh in points per set (4.2), 14th in kills (246), 19th in points (279) and 20th in total attacks (651).
Windhorst chose TRU for more than just volleyball. “My brothers both went here. I really like Kamloops. They liked the school. It’s a pretty area and close to home but not at home.”
One of her brothers graduated from TRU with a Bachelor of Education degree. Her other brother took some courses here before deciding to work in the North.
Coach Grimm is glad she came to TRU a year early: “I think the league (Canada West) takes a year too get acclimatized too. For her to be able to come this year and practice it will eliminate that issue. Come September, nothing will be a surprise. She has been in the environment for a year. She will be able to come in next year and contribute. Obviously that will be great for us.”
The coach adds Windhorst has a lot of potential. “She brings a competitiveness and a fire to practice that helps us. She brings an aggression. Especially on the offensive side of the ball; when she goes after it she wants to terminate. I think that edge that she brings is pretty special. It is something that will bode well for our program and has been great for our practice environment this year. I am looking forward to contributing next year. She hits the ball with good pace and is a good athlete.”
“It’s been frustrating not to play,” Windhorst says about her mandatory one year ‘red shirt’ experience. “But I love the coaches. Every day is not like a waiting game. I feel I am learning every day (in practice). It is refreshing. It is not hard to show up because I love the sport. To learn on top of that makes it interesting.”
“When I go out to play, my aggressiveness helps me offensively,” she says when asked to evaluate her strengths.
Windhorst didn’t come into an unfamiliar environment with the WolfPack women’s volleyball program. She had played high school and club volleyball with Krista Hogewoning (5th year, outside hitter, South Surrey, BC) and Katie Woo (4th year, setter, Surrey, BC). Woo and Windhorst were part of a touring team which went to Paraguay when they were in high school when they were in grade 12 (Woo) and 11 (Windhorst) respectively.
She also had tried out for Team BC with current teammate Alyssa Wolf (5th year, libero, Delta, BC) and had coached fellow WolfPack player Samantha Horth (outside hitter, Cloverdale, BC) in club volleyball.
“Rachel is a great player and teammate,” said Hogewoning, who was her teammate in high school when they won the 2010 BC “AA” high school girls volleyball championships held in Kamloops. “She is a leader and has great attacking angles and shots. She is hilarious and easy to talk to. Rachel is just as competitive now as she was in high school but has grown up so much and has become a smart attacker. I wish I could play one more year just to play alongside her again.”
“She definitely brings a competitive drive to the team,” Woo states about Windhorst. “She fits in extremely well and has a great sense of humor.”
Grimm says the future is bright for the WolfPack moving forward with the addition of Windhorst. “We are continuing to move forward. The girls coming in will raise the level of competitiveness in practice. This will help create the environment we are looking for: building the environment of competition within to be successful on the court. It is a positive move for the program.”
Other recruits for the 2016-17 Canada West season are: Sarah Dobinson (6”0”, outside hitter, Whitby, ONT-Donald A. Wilson Secondary/Pakimen-Team Ontario Red), Hallie Drezet (5.8”, libero, Prince George, BC-Duchess Park Secondary/PGYVC-Team BC/Team Jr Canada), Abby Spratt (5’11”, setter, Calgary, AB-Centennial High School ), and Mikayla Funk (5’10”, outside hitter, Surrey, BC-Pacific Christian School/Team BC)
SIDE OUTS: Windhorst said moving from high school to the CIS and AUS was an adjustment. “But after being named AUS rookie of the year and the CIS All-Rookie team, it gave me confidence to play a bigger role on my team in my second year. I am excited for next year as I have high goals and expectations for myself.”
She is taking a full course load which includes labs so she hasn’t been had the opportunity to be a part of the WolfPack’s community events. But she is getting involved in the Kamloops Volleyball Association and coaching a U-13 girls team this spring. “I am really excited about that.”
Woo on their experience in Paraguay. “It was an awesome experience, quite some time ago for both of us. It’s through an organization called Athletes In Action. It was a volleyball trip where we got to play against Paraguayan girls, but also had a humanitarian focus. Paraguay has a national program that is essential a soup kitchen for children we volunteered there and ran day programs for the kids. Volleyball was an awesome avenue to facilitate our trip, but ended up being only a small part of our take away from the experience. “