Sports

Nieve Seguin is one of only three current varsity student-athletes to balance a med school and student-athlete schedule at the U of O. Photo: Courtesy of Sports Services

Volleyball players stars in the return of meet a Gee-Gee

Growing up in the small Franco-Ontarian community of Casselman along Highway 417, Nieve Seguin started playing volleyball in middle school following in the steps of her older brothers.

“I got into volleyball because my older brothers played in high school, I was a little bit younger and when I got to Grade 7 I really wanted to make the school team,” said Seguin. “I started playing in Grade 7, then started playing competitively in Grade 8. I’m from a small town so our team was never top of Canada or anything like that but I got to play competitively.”

Playing high school volleyball in a small town, Seguin never thought she has what it took to make it to university-level volleyball

“I played in high school but I never thought I was good enough or tall enough for university volleyball,” said Seguin. “I was just playing and I enjoyed it but when I got into Grade 12, a bunch of referees and coaches from other teams around the area started asking me where I was playing next year for university and I told them I wasn’t good enough for (the university level). I was good for my team but I was from a small town and university volleyball was way up there.”

With plans to attend the U of O to study biomedical science in the fall, Seguin had her first encounter with women’s volleyball head coach Lionel Woods while playing in the Franco-Ontarian province-wide volleyball championships, known as Franco. 

“So we were at the Franco tournament in Ottawa, the finals were at Montpetit (Gym) and between the semis and finals we watched the Gee-Gees play and after the game, we went to see Lionel and I introduced myself and asked about the team,“ said Seguin. “He said it was pretty late for recruiting but to send him an email. I sent him one and he invited me to practice in May.”

Seguin was reinvited to keep practicing with the Gees and helped out with Gee-Gees camp while working out with the team. She participated in training camp until receiving an unexpected announcement early in the 2016-17 school year. 

“When school had started already, he (Woods) was like ‘OK, well you’re on the team, let’s see how we go from here,’ ” said Seguin. “My skills weren’t as good as the other girls coming into first year, I was a walk-on, but I got through it and here I am, four years later.”

In her rookie year, Seguin didn’t play much given but tried to stay productive as much as she could on the bench.

“The game was way too fast for me at that point but learning was important as a rookie,” said Seguin about her first year as a Gee-Gee.

However, Seguin did get some chances to serve and replace the starters on occasion. 

“I played a few times late in the year. I remember though the first time he (Woods) put me in to serve, I was so uncomfortable, it felt like the court was a big bubble,” she said. “After that, it was cool because I had more chances of going on the court and that bubble disappeared.” 

After another year spent mostly on the bench, Seguin began playing a lot more in her third year with the Gees. starting this year, she plays pretty much full time. 

Now in her fourth year on the team and first year in medical school, Seguin said she has not struggled too much balancing her responsibilities on the court and in the classroom. 

“It was always easy for me to be busy because I’ve always been busy in my life, I’m kind of used to juggling school, sports, and a job,” said Seguin. “I’m good on focusing on one thing at a time — when I go to the gym my focus is on volleyball, and when I’m in class it’s on my studies”.

Seguin also said that she has spoken to former men’s hockey team captain Eric Locke, who also balanced a med school schedule while being a student-athlete, for insights and tips on how to do it.

The versatile left and right side player has gone through some trials in her time as a Gee-Gee, including an injury that troubled her constantly in second year.

“The second year was tough, I had a sprained ankle and few things here and there before starting the season but then I dislocated my thumb in November,” said Seguin. t was good that it wasn’t a big injury, like I looked fine, I can do all these things, but every time I touch the ball it hurts so it took me a bit of time to get back into it.”

When Seguin was asked which teammates had the biggest impact on her as an individual and athlete, she answered without any hesitation.

“Kara Hayes is our team captain, I lived with her when I was in second year and it was very cool to hear and see someone outside of the court and to see and learn how it affects them on the court,” said Seguin. “She’s an amazing leader, she is someone who keeps you accountable, so sometimes I’m like ‘I should do this because I know she would approve,’ and she’s incredibly smart and uses her personal experience to lead.”  

Seguin also points to Magalie Frappier and Emily Lenton as two teammates she can lean on whenever she needs to. 

In spite of the tough year, Seguin says the volleyball team is closer than ever and she’s confident they can break out of their current slump. 

Seguin and her teammates will look to break their now seven-game losing streak when they take on the Citadins of the University of Quebec in Montreal on Nov. 17 in Montreal. The volleyball team will be back home on Nov. 24 at 2.p.m when they take on the University of Montreal Carabins at Montpetit Gym.   

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