Jennifer Oakes, the newest addition to the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball program, has skipped training camp.
For a newbie to the CIS, this could traditionally be a career-ending move.
But Oakes has a pretty good excuse—she’s in Rio with Canada’s Paralympic team.
At 18, Oakes is the youngest member of Canada’s sitting volleyball squad.
A libero, Oakes comes out of Calgary’s William Aberhart High School and the Canuck Volleyball club.
Oakes is one of seven players to be joining the Heat for the 2016-17 Canada West season after the departure of six graduating seniors at the end of last year.
“Jenn will join the team later in September, but she has a good reason for missing training camp” said Heat coach Steve Manuel. “After representing Canada at the Paralympic games, Jenn will be able to share her international volleyball experiences, something I believe will be very valuable for our program.”
Last season’s libero, graduate Kailin Jones, was one of the university’s ‘female graduating player of the year’ recipients for UBC Okanagan and was named player of the match in the Heat’s bronze medal match at the national tournament last season.
Her departure from the Heat will leave an opening at that position that Oakes is hoping to help fill, as her international experience will assist in her transition from high school to university play.
“She has already shown an incredible work ethic and dedication, these qualities will serve her well as a CIS student athlete,” added Manuel.
At 17, Oakes lost the lower portion of her right leg in a boating accident. Instead of giving up on sports, Oakes worked hard to come back has shown why she has won such accolades and earned a berth on the Paralympic team. For the Heat’s newest member, joining the team will be an exhilarating transition.
“I’m excited to begin this chapter of my volleyball career, looking forward to working hard every day to get better as an athlete, and hoping I will grow as an individual with the support of the team,” she said.
Oakes is also starting her academic career in Human Kinetics with the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Her reason for joining this program at the Okanagan campus was simple and reasonable, “Great campus, smaller school, good HKIN program, great volleyball training.”
This is the first time Canada’s women sitting volleyball has qualified for the Paralympics. Once the games wrap up on Sept. 18, Oakes will join the Heat as a CIS student athlete.
With her Olympic experience behind her, she is set to make a large impact, adding international expertise to a team ready to defend their national ranking.