With six players graduating from the Heat, each and every new addition during the off-season will be key for the UBC Okanagan women’s volleyball program.
Among head coach Steve Manuel’s top recruits for the 2016-17 Canada West campaign is Immaculata senior Natalie Livingston.
The 6-foot-1 right side and setter medaled with the Mustangs for five straight seasons at both the provincial high school and B.C. Catholic school levels.
Livingston has collected her share of all-star recognition and individual awards, including being named tournament MVP at the 2016 B.C. A girls championship.
Also a member of the junior Heat program, she won a gold medal at the U17 club provincials in 2014 and a silver at the U18 club championships this past season.
That familiarity with the Heat and experience with UBCO played a part in Natalie’s decision to play her university volleyball in Kelowna.
“I have had the opportunity to train at the gym with some of the Heat players and the Heat coaches and I feel very comfortable there,” she said. “It’s close to home, the campus is beautiful, it has a growing reputation as a great place to get a degree.”
The soon-to-be General Sciences student is also excited to get a chance to play for the reigning national bronze medalists.
“I am over the moon that I get the opportunity to play on such a high level and competitive team,” she says. “Both the girls on the team and the coaches are so welcoming. I am looking forward to developing as a player and a person with the Heat and hope I can contribute to the future success of the Heat program.”
Head coach Steve Manuel said the feeling is mutual.
“We are very happy to officially welcome Natalie to the Heat program,” said Manuel. “She has been training here at UBC Okanagan and competing for the Junior Heat program for several years, so we know we are getting a quality individual and an outstanding student athlete.
“Natalie has the complete package, she is an extremely versatile athlete, an excellent student and a great teammate,” he added. “I have no doubt that she will be able to fill several roles on our team.”