Kelowna’s Eric Jacobs has always been interested in seeing the world beyond the boundaries of her hometown.
That’s why moving more than 3,000 kilometres east to further her education and hone her volleyball skills felt like a pretty logical step for the 17-year-old athlete from Immaculata.
Jacobs has accepted a scholarship offer to join the University of Toronto Blues women’s volleyball program this fall.
“I’ve wanted to go away all my life, to get out on my own, meet new people and have new experiences,” said Jacobs. “Really, if I went to Vancouver, that would be four hours by car. Toronto is just four hours by plane, so it’s not that much different. I’m just excited to be able to keep playing volleyball.”
For three seasons with Immaculata’s senior girls’ program, the 6-foot-2 Jacobs dominated at the setter position, helping the Mustangs to a silver and two bronze medal efforts at the provincial championships.
Among her several post-secondary options was staying right at home to play with Steve Manuel’s UBC Okanagan Heat. But with Emily Oxland and Chandler Proch already ahead of her on the depth chart, it would likely have meant a season as a red shirt before Jacobs would see any playing time.
At the U of T, Blues head coach Kristine Drakich plans to get the CIS rookie some quality floor time.
“It just seemed like the right fit,” said Jacobs, whose brother, Brandon, also attends the U of T. “I liked the team, I liked the coach and it’s a really good program. I’m happy to have the chance to play my first year out of high school and improve my skills.”
Jacobs’ game developed under the watchful eye of Mustangs’ coach Brian Drosdovech since her Grade 8 year.
Because she skipped a grade at Immaculata, Jacobs is technically coming off her Grade 11 season, making her younger than than most of her peers at the university level.
As solid a player as Jacobs is already, Drosdovech said she is a long way from reaching her full potential.
“Erin has really good size and she has great hands,” said Drosdovech. “She’s still a year or two away from filling out, so physically she’s just going to get stronger. On top of her setting skills, she has a very big block and, with her size, that’s huge at the CIS level. I think in a year or two we’re going to see what kind of player she can really be.”
As for her prospects on a national scale, Drosdovech believes Jacobs has the tools to one day line up for the Canadian senior women’s program.
Jacobs admits it’s among her future goals.
“It’s definitely been a dream of mine, to play on the national team,” she said. “It it ever worked out, it would be amazing.”
But first things first, Jacobs will play this summer for Team B.C., before joining the Varsity Blues at the end of August.
A 4.0 GPA student at Immaculata, Jacobs will study life sciences at the University of Toronto.