Meet the ‘Pack: women’s volleyball outside hitter, Keira Gent

Gent, a Canada West volleyball all-rookie, on her journey to TRU, role models on the court, and more

Late last month, Canada West released the list of players for the All-Star and All-Rookie volleyball teams. In all, three WolfPack players–one from the men’s team and two from the women’s–were invited to compete.

Recently, the Omega’s sports editor, Aibiike Alymova, had the chance to sit down with one of the trio, All-rookie outside hitter Keira Gent (KG), to chat about this unique experience.

Omega: Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a member of TRU’s team?

KG: I played volleyball in Calgary, where I grew up. I knew that I wanted to play in this league. I reached out to a bunch of coaches, some reached out to me. I had a practice, and the head coach Chad Grimm and last year’s assistant coach came and watched. They emailed me and kept in touch with me. Then I came to visit, and I just really liked Kamloops, it’s super nice. It’s not too big, but it’s a good campus at the same time. I really liked the environment. The coaches and the girls were awesome. So, at the end of the day, that’s what made me come here. There were other places I could’ve stayed at home [Calgary], but I wanted to do something new, and this seemed like the right place to do it.

Omega: How do you approach training and preparation for games?

KG: I have a few songs I like to listen to before the game, but nothing crazy. I just try to stay relaxed. As a player, especially for volleyball, I try to be steady and keep my cool out there. 

Omega: What has been the most memorable moment of your rookie season so far?

KG: The most memorable part wasn’t our best game, and I wasn’t playing awesome; but our first game of the whole season. We were trailing to the University of Alberta, they are a really good team. I was starting the game, but I never started before and it was our first game of the year. The gym was completely packed, I never experienced something like that ever before. I will never forget that feeling, I was so nervous. It might not have been my happiest moment, but it was a really exciting thing.

Omega: How have you improved as a player since you joined TRU?

KG: I think the jump in volleyball is quite a bit, from a club in high school to a university level. It’s a lot faster, girls are older, bigger. I think [at the beginning] of the year, I was on the court playing, but I didn’t really feel like I had a presence. I was anxious to be there, [thinking,] ‘I need to not make mistakes and need to fit in.’ By the end of the year, I felt at home with the other girls and working together and actually feeling like I’m contributing something and doing something for the team instead of just making sure [I wasn’t] making mistakes. So, I think that was definitely the biggest change for me.

Omega: Who is your role model?

KG: I don’t know, I definitely think I have many. When I was learning how to play volleyball and stuff, my parents were huge role models for me. They both played in university, and it was something I wanted to do. Coach Saxon [is another]. I depend on her a lot. On the court, it’s definitely Brooklyn [Olfert]. She’s the other left side when we’re playing usually. She’s an amazing player. Brooklyn’s a few years older than me. It’s really nice for me to be able to talk to her on the court when I’m struggling or need some advice. So it’s super nice having her out there.

Omega: How do you handle the pressure of performing as a rookie in a competitive league like Canada West?

KG: I think I try not to put pressure on myself because I like to just remind myself, ‘You’re in your first year, and you’re doing what you can.’ I think the pressure gets me when I’m not doing what I want to be doing or not playing my best. When you’re playing, I feel like you don’t really notice what else is going on. You’re so focused on the game. So I try not to put pressure on myself. I do like to be competitive and do good. So sometimes, the pressure does come in, but I try my best. I just want to continue to build confidence on the court. Obviously just work on my skills like I’m a left side I have to pass, I have to hit. I want to try to improve my stats. I just want to try and make overall small improvements and keep growing as a player and with the team.