Jessi Coulter’s family is well-known in Brandon for its prowess on the hardwood.
Both her parents, Barb and Grant, played basketball for the Brandon University Bobcats in 1980s and her older sister, Tia, just finished her second season with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
But Jessi, a 15-year-old who attends Vincent Massey High School, is looking at breaking family tradition and focusing more on volleyball in her future.
While Coulter plays high school volleyball, basketball and soccer, she admits she gets the most thrill out of playing volleyball.
"Volleyball clicked for me faster than basketball did," said the 5-foot-10 left side, who competed in the Cats 16U girls club volleyball tournament in Brandon over the weekend. "I still like playing basketball, but I have more fun in volleyball than basketball."
"I think I just like the feeling of when I get a big kill better than when I hit a big three-pointer," she continued. "I just get a better feeling in volleyball than basketball."
Coulter has excelled in both sports. She made Massey’s varsity girls’ basketball team when she was in Grade 9 and has continually improved.
She was also a regular kill leader for the Vikings’ junior varsity volleyball team this past high school season and is filling the same role for the Amrak Vikings 16-and-under club team this spring.
Her talent and passion for volleyball paid off last summer when she made the 15-and-under provincial team. Greg Beckwith, who coaches both Amrak and Massey’s varsity girls’ team, likes what he’s seeing from his young left side player.
"I think Jessi, with having played provincial team last summer, gained a lot of experience with that and kind of being a leader on the court in the JV season," he said.
"She’s brought a lot of experience to the team. The girls look to her for leadership on the court from a skill perspective and from an emotional perspective as well."
Coming from a family of high-end athletes, it’s not surprising that Coulter has a lot of natural athletic talent.
However, she has a strong work ethic and desire to improve her game. That became evident to Beckwith when he saw Coulter’s much improved ability to receive serves this season.
"The biggest strength that’s been most surprising to me is her serve receive," he said. "She’s been very consistent and steady in terms of her ball control, which was one of her weaknesses last year. She’s worked very hard on that to the point where it’s probably her biggest strength now."
Her attitude is also something that impresses Beckwith.
While Coulter has goals like making Massey’s varsity girls’ volleyball team next season, her focus for this club season isn’t just on improving herself.
"We’re all about team and my team is my family, so I really just want to work together and get better, not just individually but as a team," she said.