One of the top players in all of high school girls volleyball in Western Canada will make Kelowna’s UBC Okanagan campus her home next season.
Emily Oxland, a two-time B.C. championship MVP, has committed to the Heat for the 2012-13 Canada West campaign.
The 18-year-old from North Vancouver helped lead the Handsworth Royals to the provincial 4A titles in both 2009 and 2010.
Volleyball runs deep in the Oxland family as Emily’s sister Rebecca plays at Western Ontario, while her dad, Tom, was a star at the University of Waterloo in the 1980s.
UBCO head coach Steve Manuel said landing a player of Oxland’s talent and pedigree is an important acquisition for the Heat program.
“It’s huge for us,” said Manuel. “She’s been one of the top players at every age and every level she’s played at, and she comes from a great volleyball family. We’re very happy she chose to come here.”
The Heat were the big winners as Oxland’s services were sought by many top schools from virtually every region of the country.
In the end, she liked the more intimate setting of the UBC Okanagan campus, and the chance to play for an up-and-coming program.
“When I went for a visit, I liked the campus, I liked the small-community feel it had and I liked the city,” said Oxland. “As for the team, it’s a good situation for me because it’s a new program and one I feel like I’ll be more a part of right away. If I go to an older, stronger program, I probably wouldn’t be able to play as much of a role. I thought it was the right fit for me.”
And Manuel expects Oxland to make an immediate impact with the Heat program—even before she steps on the floor for that first match.
“It’s another big step for us, being able to recruit players like Emily adds more credibility to our program,” he said. “In addition to what she’s going to do on the court, even before she puts on a uniform, players and coaches, people everywhere are going to sit up straight and see we mean business. We’re not interested in just being part of CIS and just playing matches. This is just another indication of how serious and competitive we expect our program to be.”
Oxland played both as a setter and power hitter in high school, but will focus exclusively on setting with the Heat.
Manuel said her addition will help take some of the burden off UBCO’s current setter, Chandler Proch.
“Chandler has been carrying the entire load for us, she’s been doing a great job, but that can be very difficult. When you’re the only one, it’s sink or swim,” said Manuel. “Emily gives us depth at that position, and what I see as a huge benefit to having two great setters is the quality of training our team is going to get, day in and day out.”
Away from the court, Oxland will be enrolled in the Human Kinetics program at UBC Okanagan.
Meanwhile, Manuel and the Heat head to Edmonton this weekend for an exhibition tournament, featuring the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Regina and Saskatchewan, as well as a touring team from Japan.
UBCO (2-8) returns to Canada West regular season action Jan. 13 and 14 in Brandon.