Cascades Q&A is a weekly feature where we fire a series of offbeat questions at a UFV athlete. Some of the questions are serious, others not so much. In the crosshairs this week is Kelly Robertson, a third-year outside hitter with the Cascades women’s volleyball team.
Q: You’re the only player on the Cascades women’s volleyball team from out of province, hailing from Regina, Sask. I want to test how legit of a Saskatchewanian you are. Take a look at this photo (right). What would you call that piece of clothing?
A: “That is a bunny hug! I also say supper instead of dinner – people make fun of me for that, too!”
There are obviously some cultural differences between Saskatchewan and B.C. – the terminology thing is a small one. Do you notice any other differences between the two provinces?
“They are very different. However, I find that Chilliwack is very similar to Saskatchewan. If you just look at Chilliwack and expand it into an entire province, I think that’s Saskatchewan. Everyone likes country music, everyone has lifted trucks, goes mudding and hunting. And then there’s me!”
So you don’t consider yourself very Saskatchewan-y?
Actually, I lived in Calgary for 15 years. I was born in Saskatchewan, moved to Calgary, then moved back to Saskatchewan before I came here.”
So in your time in Saskatchewan, did you manage to become a Roughriders fan?
“Oh yeah, born and bred! I don’t think my mom would allow me to just be a cultural Rider fan. I’m a diehard. I have a Rider license plate on my car, and I don’t think I miss a game in the summer when I’m home. My mom wore a watermelon on her head one time! I don’t think she actually wore it out of the house, however. But it happened. A legitimate, carved-out watermelon!”
Your teammates tell me I need to ask you why you’re sometimes called ‘Nelly’.
“(Laughs) I was in a stats class, and my prof thought my name was Nelly until the final! She called me Nelly the entire time!”
And you didn’t correct her?
“No, I didn’t. It was too late. I didn’t realize it was happening at first. But then about halfway through (the semester) it was like, ‘Yup, for sure, she’s definitely calling me Nelly.’ There’s no fixing it now. I’ll be Nelly.”
I’m told you have another nickname within the Cascades volleyball program: Ice Queen. Is there a story behind that?
“At provincials in my first year, I was starting, and of course as a starting first-year it’s kind of cool. They called my name during the starting lineups (announcement), and everyone’s supposed to clap. But I didn’t clap, and I didn’t smile or anything. I just kind of stood there like, ‘OK, let’s do this!’”
You didn’t hear it, or what?
“No, I heard it. I was just in the zone. I wasn’t clapping, I was serious! And that is where Ice Queen came from.”
I hear you’re a huge fan of the Twilight movies. Are you on Team Edward or Team Jacob?
“Honestly, I don’t really like either of them. I just like watching it when I feel sad! (Laughs). Maybe one day, I’ll meet a good-looking vampire, you know?”
The Cascades women’s volleyball program runs an extensive off-season program. But you’re back home in Saskatchewan in the summer, and head coach Mike Gilray tells me you do a great job coming into the fall in great shape despite not working out with the team. How do you manage that?
“It’s really hard, because when you’re here everything is planned for you. You have a gym set-up for the summer and you have training sessions and you have practice. I don’t really have any of that, so I joined a couple beach leagues to get reps in. And I have my high school coach – I didn’t see him that much this summer, but I usually go to him quite a bit to get reps in as well. On the gym side of things, I have to go buy my own gym membership, which is pretty pricey – I didn’t really realize until I had to do it (myself). I go three times a week and just try to keep up with the team.”
Is it easy to stay disciplined when you’re working out on your own?
“I’m pretty motivated in the summer, because I don’t want to get chubby – it’s the summer! If I had to do it in the winter, I’d probably be eating chips and turkey all the time. So I’m glad I’m here!”
Coach Gilray tells me you’re a great presence on the team – you’re hungry to improve, you take feedback well, and you relate really well to your teammates. Obviously not having been around all the new players in the summer, he says you get up to speed really quickly with the group in September. As a third-year player, what’s your mentality with that as you move into more of a veteran leadership role?
“This year especially was hard, because last year I feel like I knew more of the girls on the team (coming into September). But this year, I didn’t know as many – at least it seemed that way. It might be because everyone got to know each other over the summer.
“As a third-year player on the team, you definitely have a lot of experience, and my mentality going into meeting everyone is, this is my family for the year. These are my family members. I don’t have any family out here – Monique (Huber, fourth-year middle) is probably the closest thing I have to family. It’s nice to be able to squeeze yourself into a friend group without trying.”
Your team went down to Everett, Wash. for a preseason tournament. Tell me a funny story from that trip – what’s a road trip with this team like?
“The trip to Everett was basically just a bunch of dancing! Someone would play music, and everyone would just start dancing and doing terrible, ridiculous dance moves. I think everyone really bonded over that. It was a little scary at first, but once you got into it, it was fun.”
I definitely get a close-knit vibe from your team. So when these dance parties break out, who’s the ringleader?
“The ringleader? I couldn’t tell you. I know Hanna (Hieltjes), as a first-year, she’s kind of sprouted. She loves dancing, no shame, will lay it all out!”
That’s a neat insight into your team. What else kind of defines this year’s team and makes it special?
“Everyone’s really close. . . . I don’t think anyone is pushing themselves away from the group. Everyone’s getting into it. If they’re having issues, they come to the team, they don’t go to anyone else. It’s like a giant support system, which is really nice.”
Your team opens the regular season Friday and Satuday at home vs. the Capilano Blues. The last game you played last season was against Cap (a loss in the PACWEST bronze medal game). Is this match-up something your team is excited about?
“I know that there’s a fire under us – we definitely want to win this one. But I’m pretty sure we want to beat Cap every time. There’s a rivalry there, for sure.”
Robertson and the Cascades volleyball teams open the PACWEST regular season against the Capilano Blues, with games set for Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the Envision Athletic Centre on the UFV Abbotsford campus.