By Garrett Simmons
Lethbridge School District No. 51
Four members of the Chinook Coyotes high school volleyball team are taking their talents to post-secondary schools.
Thursday afternoon at Chinook High School, two of those four players signed on the dotted line, as Lauren Follett committed to Lakehead University and Haley Sowell signed with the Northern Institute of Technology. Those two players will join Abigial Gruenhage and Dani Bryant, two other Coyotes who have both committed to the College of the Rockies, to cap an impressive year for Chinook’s senior class.
Sowell, a libero, was a Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League Second Team all-star this past season, is set to enroll in the ultrasound tech program at NAIT.
On the court, she’s hoping to replicate the success she had at Chinook, where her teams won zone titles in her Grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 seasons. Sowell’s defensive prowess has certainly played a part in her team’s ability to continue its zone championship run.
“I’ve been a libero since the very beginning,” said Sowell, who added playing the defence-first position requires a certain mindset. “The mental game has to be very strong to be a libero.”
Sowell added she has also worked hard on her serve-receive game, a skill she will continue to hone at NAIT.
“The first year I think I’ll be mainly a serving substitute and a defensive back-row specialist,” she said, while the goal is to be a starting libero by year two.
Follett is set to pursue a Bachelor of Science in nursing at Lakehead, while likely playing the right side on the court.
“I’ve always wanted to play post-secondary, so it’s super exciting to be able to play at Lakeland,” said Follett, who also played the setter position a bit this year at Chinook.
She was a two time Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League First Team all-star, and a three-year senior varsity starter for the Coyotes.
As for her first season at Lakeland, Follett will likely play the right side hitter position, with a bit of setter sprinkled in.
“I’m just excited to be playing with competitive girls and playing at this level against players who have been playing uni at this level.”
Gruenhage, a left side hitter for Chinook, was a two-time Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League First Team all-star and a three-year senior varsity starter, who also played for Team Alberta as a U16 player.
Bryant also played libero at Chinook, and will join her teammate Gruenhage at the College of the Rockies. She was a Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League Second Team all-star last season.
With four players off to post-secondary, it wraps up a successful run at Chinook for coach Jamie Bach, as the Coyotes have won eight straight 4A zone championships.
This particular group of Chinook seniors has included some players who Bach has worked with for several years.
“Jamie has coached me since Grade 7,” said Follett. “He’s taught me everything I’ve ever learned about volleyball.”