Elphinstone grad commits to Heat volleyball team

Michelle Jakszuk, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter from Gibsons, should help fill void left by graduate Alex Basso

Gibsons product Michelle Jakszuk will join the UBC Okanagan Heat women's volleyball team next season.

Gibsons product Michelle Jakszuk will join the UBC Okanagan Heat women's volleyball team next season.

Michelle Jakszuk of Elphinstone Secondary in Gibsons has committed to suiting up for the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s team next fall.

The 6-foot-1 outside hitter comes with a great set of skills as she joins Steve Manuel’s program for the 2013-12 season.

Jakszuk is very athletic with great jumping ability and, for a player still in high school already possesses a wide variety of shots.

“She has the ability to be the player that can break a game wide open with her offensive abilities,” said Manuel, the Heat’s head coach, “a role we will be looking to fill now that Alex Basso is graduating.”

Basso, a five-year starter for the Heat, was a decorated outside hitter who was a key member of the team’s three-time provincial and two-time national championship wins while in the CCAA, and helped guide the team into the CIS and a playoff berth this past season.

Jakszuk’s versatility isn’t limited to the things she can do on the volleyball court but across a handful of activities, she was a successful multi-sport athlete during her high school years, playing soccer, basketball and volleyball, as well as competing in track and field. Consistently an MVP for her high-school soccer and volleyball teams, she eventually settled into volleyball as her first and primary passion.

Michelle was a North Shore, provincial high school and provincial club first team all-star from 2010-12. She was also the 2012 Ogopogo High School tournament MVP (held at UBC’s Okanagan campus each fall) and was named to the All-Star team of the UBC high school tournament in Vancouver.

She is also a former teammate of Heat setter Emily Oxland and that familiarity with the team’s setter, a member of the CIS national all-rookie team, will certainly assist Michelle’s transition to attacking at the university level.

“We believe that Michelle will be an impact player in Canada West and we are very happy that she has chosen to join our Heat program,” Manuel added as he looks forward to his squad’s third year in the CIS.

Michelle is very excited to attend UBC Okanagan for her studies as well.

“I chose (to come to) UBC Okanagan because of its small campus,” said Jakszuk. “I like the idea of a smaller school with smaller classes. The campus being new and renovated is a bonus too. I’ve been coming to the Okanagan every summer for as long as I can remember, so I really like the location.”

She will enroll in the B.A. program but is not sure yet what she will major in. “I still don’t know exactly what I want to study, but I do know I want to do something to help people, whether it’s through teaching or medicine, I’m still not sure.”

“As far as the team goes, the Heat girls are all very inclusive and they made me feel welcome from day one,” she added. “I think you need to be friends off the court as well as on the court, so I’m looking forward to making some long-term friendships.”

Along with Jakszuk, Manuel will welcome back Chandler Proch. The starting setter in 2011-12, Chandler will rejoin the team in September after fully recovering from her injury that sidelined her for the entire 2012-13 season.


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