Martina Mazzei doesn’t mind that Tennessee is a long way from her home in Kelowna.
Actually, it was one of the motivating factors behind the 18-year-old KSS grad’s decision to pursue an education and volleyball career south of the border.
Mazzei will attend Bryan College in the small southern city of Dayton, Tenn. on a full-ride scholarship.
“I thought of Canadian universities as an option and there are a lot of good ones, but I just wanted a new experience, to go down to the States and try something different,” said Mazzei. “I don’t know much about Tennessee, I know the weather’s pretty nice all-year around. I have mixed feelings, I’m excited and nervous at the same time. It’s something I really want to do.”
A right side power hitter, Mazzei is coming off an impressive two seasons of volleyball with the Kelowna Owls.
The team captain in 2010, Mazzei helped lead the Owls to wins at the Best of the West and UBCO tournaments, the Okanagan Valley title and a fifth-place showing at provincials. She was named a tournament all-star at both Best of the West and UBCO.
“Martina is a highly skilled volleyball player,” said Bryan College coach David Shumaker.
“She has a nice jump serve and passes with excellent technique. She is an outside hitter with both power and control. Further, she brings a great deal of passion and excitement to the court.”
An NAIA school, Mazzei chose Bryan College for several reasons, including the quality of coaching in the volleyball program and the chance to win a championship in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
A Christian-based institution of about 1,500 students, spiritual fulfillment also played a role in her decision.
“I’m looking to get an education, to play some high level volleyball, and to grow spiritually,” she said. “That helped me decide where I wanted to go.”
As for wading into the unknown of an unfamiliar school and the culture of the southern U.S., Mazzei admits she’s nervous but not at all apprehensive.
“I’m pretty outgoing and like to meet people, so I’m going to jump right in there. I’m ready to get to know my teammates and classmates the instant I get there.”
Mazzei will focus her studies at Bryan College on becoming an elementary school teacher.
She leaves for Dayton, Tenn. in August.