Bay Roberts volleyballer enjoys the challenge
Bay Roberts teenager Julianna Clarke likes challenging herself, specifically when it comes to her chosen sport of volleyball.
The 15-year-old, who will start attending Ascension Collegiate this fall, is always testing herself to learn new skills and improve her game each time she steps on the floor.
“I like being able to challenge myself and push myself,” Clarke told The Compass last week.
So when she hits the floor this week for the Eastern Elite Championships July 29-30 in St. John’s, Clarke will focus on improving herself while playing against some of the top talent in the Atlantic Provinces.
Earlier this year, she found out she had made the under15 female team. It’s a selection that shows just how fast she’s taken to the game since starting four years ago.
Clarke got into volleyball when she was 11 through her aunt, but what’s kept her in it is the challenge the game pre- sents. First, it was to get really good at the basics — things like bumping and hitting. Then, she started challenging herself to master some of the more advanced techniques of the game.
“My first challenge was just completing a simple pass,” said Clarke. “It changed every year. First it was getting a pass, then it was learning serves, then it was hitting. Now, for me is getting a consistent overhand serve. That’s the challenge for me now.”
Clarke got started at the Eastern Elites late last week and is in the midst of various training camps before the tournament starts Friday.
“You’re being out up against some of the best players in the province, and just being in there and knowing that I’m not the best one there … it makes me want to be better,” she said. “It makes me want to push myself even harder to do every- thing even better than I already can.”
Selection a surprise
Clarke wasn’t expected to receive an email from coaches informing her of her selection to the provincial team.
Part of it was because — in her eyes — her tryout didn’t go well enough to warrant her being picked over another athlete.
So when Clarke received the correspondence telling her she’d made the cut, it was a bit of a surprise.
“I was happy and excited (to get selected), but I really wasn’t expecting it at all,” she said.
Using her head
Normally, Clarke plays the middle position on the court. In that role, she has to have a keen understanding of her opponent’s tendencies offensively. Her primary role is to shut down their offense.
For that, Clarke needs to have an understanding of the game and remain calm as the game moves 100 miles per hour around her.
“I’m able to decide quickly on what I need to do (on the floor),” she said of her calmness on the court. “Sometimes, that definitely helps. Sometimes, you need to be able to assess whether to go in for that block or stay back and play defense. You need to be able to watch the person hitting and be able to decide, ‘ Do I need to go left or right?’”
The Eastern Elite tournament represents an opportunity to learn from some of the best trainers and coaches in this province.
It’s part of the reason Clarke is excited to take part in the event.
“Mostly, it’s going out and getting experience and advice from provincial coaches, just to keep upping my game.”
“I was happy and excited (to get selected), but I really wasn’t expecting it at all.” - Julianna Clarke
Bay Roberts’ Julianna Clarke is a member of the province’s under-15 female volleyball team.