Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Camosun alumnus becomes Chargers assistant coach

August 26, 2015 by Pascale Archibald, contributing Writer

Former Camosun student and Camosun Charger athlete Erika Sheen recently became an assistant coach for the Chargers women’s volleyball team.

Even though Sheen didn’t actively seek out the opportunity to coach (and to be mentored by Chargers coaches), she says that she just couldn’t not be involved in the game, as it had consumed her life for so long.

“As hard as it is to look back on some of my years, I can recognize that it developed me as a player and made me the leader I am,” says Sheen. “Starting at the bottom and ending my career with a bronze at nationals is quite the experience. I feel like in this position I can really influence young females as athletes to push them into their full potential and give them first-hand knowledge of what it actually takes.”

Erika Sheen used to play for the Camosun Chargers; now she coaches them (photo provided).

Erika Sheen used to play for the Camosun Chargers; now she coaches them (photo provided).

According to Sheen, she didn’t start out her volleyball career with her team spirit fully developed. She attributes her maturity as a player and a leader to the challenging first years of collegiate volleyball.

“I played my first three years in Alberta at Lethbridge College, and during my second year our head coach was fired halfway through our season,” says Sheen. “That year developed me as a person and a player because as a team you have to rally together and push through.”

Sheen is confident that she can make a difference in young players’ performances because she has learned the hard way what it takes to make it in the game.

“At Lethbridge, we didn’t win that many games, and I had never been to provincials or nationals,” she says. “It was a very small college; we weren’t very good. After I transferred to Camosun in my fourth year, we went to provincials and we got bronze, so that was pretty amazing for me.”

Sheen says that getting that medal at nationals, as well as silver at provincials, was a “huge experience” for her.

“My five years started from the bottom, and I finished my career with a bronze at nationals,” she says. “I truly believe that I know exactly what it takes to get to that national championship and to bring home hardware from it.”

The opportunity to get into coaching occurred naturally, which makes sense: Sheen doesn’t seem like she would ever be too far away from the sporting scene.

“I’ve been playing volleyball since Grade 6,” says Sheen, “but I actually played competitive soccer for probably close to 10 years, and in Grade 8 I had to choose between my competitive soccer and school sports because they conflicted quite a bit. I decided to go with school sports because that way I could play a variety of sports. I grew up with an athletic family and I think that was kind of a big influence on me.”

When Sheen graduated from high school, she had two scholarship offers: one was basketball and one was volleyball. She chose volleyball. Sheen says her choice was part convenience of playing in her hometown, and part playing to her strengths.

“When I first graduated high school, I just thought I would play for two or three years, and then maybe I would start work or go to university,” says Sheen. “I decided to stick around, and the more I got involved with the college-level sport it just got a lot more fun and a lot more competitive, and I loved every minute of it.”

Chris Dahl, head coach of the Chargers women’s volleyball team, says that Sheen’s strengths in teamwork make her a good choice for the position.

“Erika is an outstanding team person,” says Dahl. “That’s one of the things that struck usŃshe’s got that people-first personality that we try to make a priority within our program.”

Sheen is one of 12 individuals chosen for a mentorship coaching position from across Canada by the Canadian College Athletic Association (and one of only four in volleyball).

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