Volleyball Australia has announced the first year’s intake at the new women’s Centre of Excellence at the AIS in Canberra, an exciting blend of youth and experience that national coach Shannon Winzer believes will lay the platform for the future of women’s volleyball in Australia.
With five leading Volleyroos already playing in top international leagues, the 12 players named this week to start the Centre of Excellence program will be looking to join them in coming seasons, part of a long-term plan to lift the standard of women’s volleyball in Australia.
Several of the 12 players named are member’s of the Volleyroos U23 squad, and Perth’s Jennifer Sadler and Melbourne’s Jaimee-Lee Morrow were part of last year’s women’s World Grand Prix campaign.
“It's very exciting that we have a group of players who are willing to commit to a high performance career in volleyball, and by taking a position at the CoE they are sending us the message that volleyball is a top priority and they want to work towards the next step in their careers,” coach Winzer said.
“With that level of commitment I am very excited about the future for women's volleyball in Australia.”
All twelve athletes will move to Canberra to train full time. Many will continue university courses in the ACT, and some will pursue full-time work.
But Winzer said ultimately the goal of every member of the group is to play top level international volleyball.
“The biggest challenges for this group will be managing a full time training load with their study and work commitments, and trying to fit the requirements of being a high performance athlete into restricted hours and still maintaining a balance that they can manage,” she said.
“The CoE is part of the pathway to becoming a Volleyroo, but we will have a few Volleyroos training at the CoE working towards getting professional playing contracts overseas.
“Our 2017 Volleyroos squad will be a combination of Australians who are playing overseas, as well as some who are based in Australia.”
The Centre of Excellence is seen as a major boost for women’s volleyball in Australia. While the men’s Volleyroos team and the Australian beach volleyball program have received Australian Sports Commission funding, there has been no money for women’s volleyball since the London Olympics.
But through the generous support of sponsors like Gina Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting, and helloworld, Australia has been able to compete in the prestigious World Grand Prix.
Winzer said forming a partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport would give women’s volleyball the edge it needs.
“The resources and the facilities at the AIS are second to none, and to have all the resources that the AIS provides available to our athletes is amazing,” she said.
“I am very excited to work with them to help develop our athletes and make this program a success.”
The Women’s Volleyball Centre of Excellence Class of 2017 are;
Aggie Kudziela (20), Qld (passer/hitter)
Jamie-Lee Morrow (24), Vic (passer/hitter)
Jennifer Sadler (23), WA (opposite)
Kathryn Chen (26), Vic (libero)
Courtney Durston (18), Qld (m/opposite)
Kiara Olsson (18), Qld (passer/hitter)
Elissa Blowes (24), NSW (passer/hitter)
Mikaela Stevens (18), NSW (setter)
Lily Borger (21), NSW (libero)
Wendy Edwards (28), NSW (middle)
Anisa Mackenzie (24), SA (m/opposite)
Jenny Tait (21), Qld (m/opposite)