Lexi Loewen’s final year with the Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team will be filled with challenges both on and off the court.
In the classroom, the 21-year-old nursing student will be busy taking six classes —more than a full load — and she also has an eight-hour clinical session to participate in once a week. That would keep a lot of people busy enough, but Loewen, who’s in her final year of CIS eligibility, also has to make time for Bobcat practices and matches, and she’s stepping into a new role on the squad.
For the first time in her career, the Winkler native will be part of the Bobcats’ leadership team — joining fifth-year setter Kellie Baker, fourth-year right side Victoria Dakin and German libero Donata Huebert, who returns to Brandon after playing professionally overseas for the past two years.
Although Loewen will be extremely busy, she’s excited about becoming a leader on the team.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Loewen, who looks to former Bobcat and nursing student Jaryn Ruether for advice on how to balance her life. “I’ve never really been on a leadership team in any of the teams I’ve been on. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to maybe have a little more responsibility and maybe have a little more respect from some of the other girls on the team and be someone they can look up to.”
Although it will be a tough juggling act for Loewen, Bobcats head coach Lee Carter is trying to make things easier by asking the 6-foot-0 middle to be more of a leader by example than anything else.
“A lot of what we’re asking Lexi to do will be on-the-court stuff, so work hard, go for the extra ball and when we travel, help make sure the young athletes know about studying,” Carter said. “Obviously she’s a very committed student to be able to juggle all the nursing requirements and volleyball at the same time.”
Loewen joined the Bobcats two years ago after spending her first two seasons of eligibility at Briercrest College in Caronport, Sask. Since coming to the Wheat City, Loewen has battled Larissa Vonkeman for the second starting middle position beside Brandonite Meaghan Robertson.
Vonkeman won the battle to start most of the time in the 2011-12 campaign, but Loewen fought back last season and started in 16 of her 18 matches. Loewen finished the year with 89 kills while averaging 1.46 per set, 21 aces and a team-high 65 blocks, averaging 1.07 per set.
That competition will be missing this season as Vonkeman has left the team, leaving the Bobcats with only three middles, including Brandonite Jodie Baker. Although that move may mean more playing time for Loewen, she misses the competition and friendship she had with Vonkeman.
“I kind of miss Larissa,” Loewen said. “We were really good friends. It was nice having four middles as opposed to now when we have three. It was good. I like competition and I like working for a spot. As much as we miss her, I’m looking forward to the season and I think I will be starting. I’m excited about that, but I miss her, too.
“(Jodie) pushes me in practice and I think I push her. We all just are working really hard. You can tell we all want it. It’s a good, healthy competition going on.”
Loewen is expecting a tough year of balancing her life. She knows she won’t have much time for a social life once the Bobcats’ pre-season schedule begins at a tournament in Winnipeg next week, so she’s made sure she set aside some time to hang out with her teammates during the first month of classes.
She hopes to end her university athletics career with a solid season in Bobcat blue, but the main thing she wants to accomplish is to finally compete in the Canada West playoffs. Brandon has missed them in each of the past two seasons.
“Making playoffs would definitely mean a lot to me,” she said, “just to show all the effort and work I put in would be for something more than just playing games and you could actually have an achievement that you could tell somebody about.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 21, 2013