It’s finger crossing time for Cambrian Golden Shield women’s volleyball coach Dale Beausoleil.
It’s already a given that Hayley Chisholm will not be returning to the team in 2018-2019, her five years of OCAA eligibility fully completed. Setter Kendra Muffo may be making the move over to university studies. A few others still have some decisions to make.
Among that group, Beausoleil would dearly love to have at least some elements to build around for a few years to come. Sturgeon Falls native and multi-position talent Isabelle Rivest would be a great starting point.
The 18 year old Franco Cité graduate, a rookie with the Golden Shield, is just wrapping up a year in the Pre-Health program, looking to transition either to Nursing or Paramedics. “It’s not 100% decided, but it’s like 98% sure I want to go into Nursing here,” Rivest said with a smile. But she has also applied to Nipissing, as well as Collège Boréal, where she would enjoy the opportunity to study in her native tongue.
The thing is that talent like hers, mixed in with some much appreciated versatility, is not easy to come by. For the youngest of two children in the family, it’s a development that began many moons ago, first introduced to the sport of volleyball while attending grade six at Ecole élémentaire catholique La Résurrection in Sturgeon Falls.
“I was pretty much into every sport I could find, because I just loved it,” she recalled. “My mom put me in skating when I was about three, but I changed to hockey at ten. I started volleyball in sixth grade, and at one point in my life, I had to choose between hockey and volleyball.”
“I just thought I could go a lot further in volleyball. I liked it so much better because it’s so much of a team sport.” Though fairly athletic by nature, Rivest was not above a handful of volleyball idiosyncrasies in her early days. “My underhand serves,” she laughed.
“I used to do them a lot different than most people. Instead of using the front of the hand, I used to use my backhand – I had just always done it like that.” Thankfully, she would get exposed to a variety of volleyball teachings, from her elementary coach (Denis Auger), on through her career with Vision Volleyball (Danny Gosselin) after a brief stint with the West Nipissing Wild, all while balancing off a very successful stretch with the Patriotes high school team at Franco Cité.
“I was not a setter all the way through,” said Rivest. “In elementary, I started at left side, and then he (my coach) put me both setter and left side. In high school, I mainly played setter, but in club, I started at setter, then moved to right side.”
“They had me play left side in my last year, and sometimes, he put me libero too.” Talk about bouncing around. “I just like every angle of the game. You can pretty much just put me somewhere and I’ll love to play.” And mixed through it all was the added benefit that one garners from assuming a variety of positions in a sport where assembling a different perspective can prove quite invaluable.
“I like doing both (setter and left side), because they’re two different visions of the game,” suggested Rivest. “It would have been cool to be specifically for one, just to see if I could develop so much more, but doing both was so much fun. It helped me knowing where to set. If the left side or right side is serving, I’ll know where to put the ball, because you know which spots are open.”
While the decision to attend Cambrian was not an easy one for Rivest, the fact that there was some familiarity with the man in charge helped. Two summer visits to the Kabuum Volleyball Camp certainly helped ease her mind. “I knew I wanted to go to Cambrian, for sure, when I talked to Dale. He kind of knew me and I kind of knew him.”
And while there is no denying that the foundation that was created through the coaches of her youth was a solid one, it’s just not the same at the post-secondary level. “Everyone here wants to speed up their offense and play the game a lot faster,” said Rivest. “Adjusting is something you need to do really quickly.”
“The setter will release the ball a lot faster, and the left side has to come up a lot faster. If you’re blocking, they’re going to guess that much quicker, they will be there that much faster.” And so one adjusts and one learns. The path of development takes another step forward.
“My blocking got a lot better this year,” noted Rivest. “I learned how to swing block. Instead of just taking one step and jumping, you start more inside to cover the middle as well, but then you can also swing outside to block.” The sharing of knowledge just never stops when you are playing for Dale Beausoleil.
“He knows every little thing about everything in volleyball,” noted the freshman, who played at both setter and left side this past season at Cambrian. “If you mess up a pass, he knows exactly what you did wrong. If you mess up a set, he knows exactly where you put your hands wrong. Every little detail, he would adjust to.”
And few, if any, can match his ability to connect with the young women under his watch. “Dale is more laid back, he knows that you know what you need to do, but he would let you know at some points,” said Rivest. “He’s intense when he needs to be, at the good times. He understands what you can and can’t do. He knows your limits, I guess you could say.”
And he knows that Isabelle Rivest has not come close yet to reaching her limits. Now coach Beausoleil simply wants a few more years to help her get there.