Four years ago, Ashley Creighton was a dominating player with the Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team.
Today, she’s trying to keep the streets clean in Lloydminster — which is on the Saskatchewan and Alberta border — in her first post as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It’s taken a while for the 26-year-old Brandonite to find her calling, but she’s loving it.
"I definitely got, I would say, the perfect post for me," Creighton said. "It’s super busy. It’s smaller than Brandon in Lloyd, but it’s a different lifestyle. There’s all the oil and a lot of money, which brings a lot of drunks and transient people who are here to work and leave. The experience has been unreal."
Creighton thought about becoming an officer of the law when she was in high school, as she has two uncles who are police officers. However, she was a fantastic volleyball player — leading the Crocus Plainsmen to a provincial high school title in 2002 and setting school records for kills in a season (501) and aces in a season (110) — and the 6-foot-3 middle decided to go to university and play the sport she loved while getting an education.
She started her post-secondary career on an NCAA scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh, where she played for the Panthers for two seasons before taking a year off and joining the fledgling Brandon Bobcats for their second season. Creighton spent three years in Brandon, playing volleyball and studying physical education and sociology. Despite only starting in one-third of Brandon’s matches, Creighton was among the conference leaders in attack percentage, blocks and points en route to being named to Canada West’s second all-star team.
After exhausting her university eligibility, Creighton trained with the national team, but injured her shoulder and left the program to have it surgically repaired. After recovering from surgery, she returned to Brandon where she served as an assistant to Bobcats head coach Lee Carter.
Eventually Creighton decided to apply to the RCMP, went through the six-month program in the Training Academy at Depot Division in Regina and was assigned to Lloydminster a few months ago.
While volleyball is now in her past, she’s finding a lot of the skills she used on the volleyball court have helped her in her new career.
"Sheer work ethic would be the biggest part," she said. "Depot was, I don’t want to say it was the physically hardest thing I’ve ever done because it was pretty comparable to when I was in Pitt, but it’s just a full day. You’re up at five in the morning and you don’t get to bed until midnight. For six months, it’s just going and going, so time management, work ethic, just being physically active and being able to maintain that when you’re not being forced to through sport. Now I just had to do it to get a career ...
"Also, a lot of teamwork is huge. That is probably one of the best qualities to have as a police officer because obviously you’re out there and risking your life sometimes or trying to save other people’s. You need to have teamwork and trust and honesty with everyone else around you. There are a lot of qualities that came from the court to this job."
Although Creighton is enjoying her new job, she still misses volleyball. However, she is still following the Bobcats from afar and Westman athletes like Douglas native Stephanie Penner and Brandon’s Laura Popplestone who play for the Lakeland College Rustlers in Lloydminster.
"I’m pretty satisfied to move on and start this part of my life, but I enjoyed watching and even helping coach," said Creighton, who also helped Manitoba win a silver medal in volleyball at the 2005 Canada Summer Games. "I enjoyed stuff like that. Here in Lloyd, it’s not overly big. There’s not any senior women’s leagues or anything, but such is life. They have a college team here that I can watch from time to time.
"I miss playing, but I feel like I got what I wanted out of it."