Separated by two years, Kathryn is a third-year veteran and captain of the women’s basketball team while younger brother Dennis has just begun his rookie year with the Chargers men’s volleyball program. Each earned the title of Male/Female Athlete of the Year throughout their high school years at Pacific Christian School (Grades 8-12) with the exception of one year when Kathryn took the runner-up spot in Grade 11.
Kathryn and Dennis grew up in the southern US and moved with their family to Victoria in 2006. Their father Jeff Candell is a pastor at the Lighthouse Church and mother Robyn works in nursing. Eldest sibling Emily is currently studying at the University of Victoria (UVic). Kathryn’s twin brother Christopher studied computer science at UVic and resides and works in Victoria.
Last season, Kathryn was the PACWEST conference’s leading scorer and was named a 1st Team All-Star having averaged 18.29 points per game. Kathryn’s colorful accomplishments on the court were complimented by her achievements in the classroom where she earned her second consecutive CCAA National Scholar Athlete award and was named a CCAA Academic All-Canadian. With two years of University Transfer courses under her belt, Kathryn began her first-year of studies in Camosun’s Nursing program this past Fall.
Her brother Dennis has just begun his rookie season with the Chargers as a setter on the men’s volleyball team. He is first-year Arts and Science student who aspires to teach physical education or become an Athletic Director like his mentor, Jon Stewart at Pacific Christian.
Recently we caught up with Kathryn and Dennis about their love for sports and how Camosun is helping them reach their sport and career goals:
Did you grow up playing a variety of sports or have you always gravitated to the sport you play now?
Dennis: When we were growing up, mom wanted the girls to play volleyball and dad wanted the boys to play basketball. That’s sort of where we both started … me in basketball and Kathryn in volleyball, but by Grade 10 we both went the opposite way.
Kathryn: I always knew I wanted to play basketball over any other sport. It’s funny, but Dennis was actually terrible at volleyball. I remember practicing setting with him and thinking … oh no, he’s never going to play volleyball. And now, he’s a setter!
Was playing for the same college team ever in your plans growing up? What does it mean to you today?
Dennis: It wasn’t planned at all, but once I thought of coming to Camosun, I contacted Head Coach Charles Parkinson and kept emailing him for months. Charles basically already had two setters and two liberos and I wasn’t really a hitter so there wasn’t a specific spot for me … but Charles took me on which was a great surprise. I feel really fortunate to be on the team and to have the opportunity to play.
Kathryn: Dennis kind of gets my life now a little more. Since I started at Camosun, I’ve been really busy between school and basketball, especially this year because in nursing, we have six classes. I rarely get to see my family or have a social life, so it’s nice to have someone that understands that. And we get to spend more time together because we have the same practice schedules … we drive back and forth together and we’re in the gym at the same time almost every day now.
The best thing is that we have a lot of the same friends now from the teams we’re on. The volleyball guys and basketball girls have always been really good friends and we all hang out together and Dennis and I get to connect that way which is great.
You seem like really good friends … have you always been this way?
Kathryn: Dennis is literally my favourite person on the planet! We’ve always been best friends. My twin Christopher is my complete opposite. We’re close now but we used to argue all the time, I guess because we’re both really stubborn. But when Den found out that he was going to play volleyball we got really excited. Dennis is the person that everyone loves. If you went to every person in our family and asked them who was their favourite family member, every one of them would say Dennis because he’s such a lovable person.
I remember one time when I was about in Grade 4 I said, I don’t think I can be nice to everyone, but I’m going to pick Dennis and if he asks me for my candy, I’m going to give him my candy and it worked so well that I think that’s why we became best friends!
Dennis: I’m still the baby to everyone in our family, but Kathryn and I work well together. She still tries to boss me around a little and she guided me around when I first started college, but I don’t think she really thinks of herself as older. We’re really similar and we like a lot of the same things.
What do you think your experience at Camosun and with the Chargers will provide you – that you may have likely not have received anywhere else?
Kathryn: Being able to go to college and compete in sports while staying at home is great. Having different teammates every year is also interesting and fun because you get a completely new experience every year. I wondered about this year because all my best friends had left the program, but I think this team is the best so far because we work together so well. I love this year’s team!
Having a home gym at PISE is also really great, along with the people who support us. Our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Kate Perry, is new this year and has been a terrific addition to the team.
Dennis: The experience at Camosun has been amazing. I’m pretty much the back-up, back-up setter, but having Charles as a coach and having the opportunity to be around people at every practice like Vitor (Macedo) and Håkon (Østrem) who have had so much experience, has taken my training to a whole new level. It’s made me step up everything I do on the court. My teammates are also awesome. Hanging out with them at practice and training, travelling and being on the court with them is really great.