Natasha Rupa will treasure these next few months for the rest of her life.
Not only is the Grade 12 student from Shoal Lake trying to decide what university to attend next season, she’s also trying to lead the Sharks to a provincial A varsity girls’ high school volleyball title.
The 5-foot-8 setter also has an opportunity to play competitive volleyball with her sister, Jenna, who’s in Grade 9 and on the Sharks this season.
Rupa isn’t burdening herself with her future right now. Instead, she’s enjoying being on the court with Jenna, which she has never done before.
“It’s very special to me,” Rupa said during a break at the annual Neelin Spartan Dig tournament on Friday. “She can show me what she can do on the court. She’s picked up a lot of stuff from me. We play in the back yard, but it’s not the same. Here it’s a competitive zone and when you get a point, you have a person to smile at no matter what, even if the team’s mad at you. It’s awesome.”
Part of the reason Rupa, who turns 17 next month, isn’t too concerned about university right now is she hasn’t received a lot of serious offers yet, although she has been contacted by the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
She expects to hear more offers as the high school season goes on and once club season begins in January.
Rupa has decided that she doesn’t want to play in the United States, and would rather compete for a Canadian Interuniversity Sport school.
Shoal Lake Sharks head coach Scott Martin believes Rupa is good enough to play at that level, especially with the way she leads her high school team.
“She just has a natural understanding of volleyball, so she can be joking one minute and turning it on the next minute and being completely focused and serious,” he said. “I think that helps our kids when they get into pressure situations. They can see it’s not life or death and you just play the next point.
“She’s serious when she needs to be serious, and cracks jokes when she needs to crack jokes, too.”
Since she’s in no hurry to make any decisions about her future, Rupa is focused on helping the Sharks get back to the provincial championship final, which Shoal Lake lost in straight sets last season.
Rupa would like to trade in her silver medal for gold this season, but knows it won’t be easy.
“It will take lots of practice and hard work,” she said. “We’re coming a long way since the start of the season. The whole team’s really come together. We’ll probably peak around next week. … We’re on a good road to provincials, I think.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 27, 2012