With plenty of NCAA playing experience on her resumé, Ann Richards will join the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball program for the 2017-18 Canada West season.
A native of Assiniboia, Sask., the 6-foo-3 middle played the last three seasons at the University of Central Florida.
With her high school team in Assiniboia, Richards was named co-captain in her Grade 11 and 12 seasons, and earned consecutive MVP honours each time.
In club competition, she played for the 17U Assiniboia Aces in her Grade 10 year, finished second provincially with the 18U JCVC side in her Grade 11 year, and third in the province in her Grade 12 year with the Regina Volleyball Club’s 18U squad.
In 2014, her freshman year at UCF, Richards was named to the American All-Academic team, and with her Knights team earned a spot in the NCAA tournament after winning the American Athletic Conference title. Richards started every match of her 2015 season at middle, and finished with a 3.0 GPA.
In the 2016 season, her last with UCF, she branched out to play at left and right side as well as middle, earned All-Tournament honours, and finished her spring semester with a 4.0.
“I chose UBCO because they are giving me an opportunity to earn a fine arts degree while being a student athlete,” said Richards of her transfer. “While making my decision to come to UBCO I heard great things and connected well with Steve Manuel. When I came on my visit to Kelowna the beginning of January I felt as though I could contribute positively to the team and have a good experience.”
Richards should be right at home in the successful Heat program, as her family has a history of volleyball achievement both in U Sports and beyond.
Richards’ parents, Bruce and Sherry Richards, both won U Sports national championships (then the CIAU) in 1978-79 while playing for the U of S Huskies, and her mon played for Canada’s national team.
Her sister,Elizabeth Richards, played for Montana State Northern for four years, while her brother William competed with the Waterloo Warriors.
Ann also has two cousins (Ben Saxton and Graham Vigrass) who competed for Team Canada volleyball sides at the Rio Olympics, and a third (Camille Saxton) who has joined the Team Canada beach volleyball program after playing for Oregon State.
“We couldn’t be happier that Ann has decided to join our Heat program,” said Heat head coach Steve Manuel. “She has the ability to make an immediate impact, she is a very physical athlete and her playing experience will be key for our team. We could tell right away when Ann visited campus that she is a great fit for our team, a hard worker, great teammate and driven to succeed on and off the court.”
As a student at UBC Okanagan, Richards will be picking up academically where she left off at Central Florida.
“While at UCF I studied Art Education and now I am attending UBCO to earn my Bachelors of Fine Arts. I intend on completing my education degree afterwards to be able to teach in a school, gallery, or museum. I hope to one day be a successful full time artist.”