Only one of the Neelin Spartans’ magnificent seven is leaving the west behind.
Emma Ciprick became the seventh member of the Spartans varsity girls’ volleyball team to commit to a Canadian Interuniversity Sport team on Thursday after signing on with the Dalhousie Tigers women’s volleyball team. With the move to Halifax, Ciprick will be the only Spartan not to compete in the Canada West conference next season, but that doesn’t bother the 5-foot-9 left side as she believes she’ll feel right at home on the East Coast.
"I just felt like it was the best fit for me academically and volleyball-wise," said Ciprick, who will study kinesiology. "After going there, I just knew because it was beautiful and I loved it there and the girls were all just very nice and I fit in very well and could see myself going there next year."
This high school volleyball season helped make Ciprick’s decision to move further away from home easier. The 17-year-old moved away from her family in Binscarth this season to Brandon so she could join the Spartans, who went on to finish second at the provincial AAAA girls’ volleyball championship. The short move made her more confident about going to the other end of the country to begin a new adventure.
What also helped is the Tigers, who are the defending Atlantic University Sport champions and finished fourth at nationals, are coached by Souris native Rick Scott, who also left Manitoba behind for the Maritimes.
"It was really comfortable knowing that he was also from around here and that he left home and stuff just like me and he absolutely loves it out there," Ciprick said. "He’s really easy to relate to out there and it helps knowing that he really loved it and I will as well."
Other Spartans who have committed to play in the CIS next season are libero Jamie Campbell (Brandon Bobcats), setter Amy Gordon (Mount Royal Cougars), middle Alison Quiring (Trinity Western Spartans), outside hitter Kristine Ward (Regina Cougars), outside hitter Tori Studler (Manitoba Bisons) and Paige Thomson (Victoria Vikes basketball).
Ciprick didn’t play with them much during her career as she suited up with Russell’s Major Pratt Trojans for her first three years of high school and was on the Parkland Vipers for the previous three club seasons before joining the 18U Storm this season. Although it was only one year she spent with her Spartan teammates, Ciprick admits she will miss them when it comes time to go to university.
"It’s crazy knowing that a lot of these girls I didn’t really know them before I moved to Brandon, but now I do and they’re all such great girls," she said. "It will be really hard to leave them. … Even though it’s sad to leave, I’m excited and hopeful with my future."