Attitude and energy

Chris Quigley
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Sometimes attitude is everything.
During her days of playing volleyball at Corner Brook Regional High School, the victories were tough, but somehow still seemed easy.
"We were just very excited all the time ... a lot of energy, a lot of spirit," said 22-year-old Hannah Bradbury. "There would never be a time where we gave up.

"I guess that's the main difference."

Bradbury was comparing her time with the Titans to her current situation, playing power for the St. Anne's University Dragons in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA).

The team has stumbled more often than not this season, with a 1-5 overall match record, winning seven games and dropping 16. They are in sixth place in the seven-team setup, with two points overall. Three schools are tied for first with 10.

"All the effort is there, all the skill and commitment is there, but a lot of it has to do with the mentality of the game," said Bradbury, who is in her rookie campaign, but stands as one of the older members of the team. "Some of the girls, as soon as they lose a point or two, it really affects them. It's almost like the game is done, they've already lost and they don't play as well."

The Corner Brook native tries her best to exude positivity, but sometimes feels like she's fighting a losing battle in that regard.

"It's a team sport, and if one person comes on the court very energetic, there's a good chance that energy will be passed along to the rest of the team," she said. "But if one or two are feeling down in the dumps, then it can also bring the whole team down.

"I always try to give my best effort because it's not completely about winning," she added. "It's about being there and playing your absolute best."

There are other factors at play, of course, when it comes to the Dragons losing record. St. Anne's is one of the smaller universities in the ACAA, meaning other schools have the luxury of a larger population from which to choose a team. The squad is also on the inexperienced side, which can sometimes exacerbate on-court troubles.

"Intimidation can be a huge factor with regards to volleyball," Bradbury admitted.

Constantly practising and playing volleyball has also left Bradbury feeling a little worn out.

"I'm playing pretty good," she said. "But sometimes I'm a bit more tired, less energetic. It's hard being out here at this new school.

St. Anne's, located in Pointe-de-l'Église, N.S. is a francophone university and, entering her first term, was far from bilingual. Being immersed in a different language made every situation just a little more taxing, whether it was speaking to professors, placing an order at the cafeteria, or being in the gymnasium during a volleyball game or meeting.

"Sometimes I understand and sometimes not so much," she laughed. "I just kind of nod.

"I can understand anglophones fairly well, but francophones, especially with their accents, it's very different."

The language barrier is slowly being broken, however. Bradbury relayed a story about a school employee telling her how much more fluent she is now than when she first arrived.

"Having to speak it, you have absolutely no other choice," she said. "You really start picking up things. Even sometimes now when I go to say English words, I say the French word by accident," she added. "You've got two things on your mind. It's kind of funny."

Home for the holidays from Dec. 11 until Jan. 6 - "French Immersion does have a really good break," she says - Bradbury has been spending as much time as possible with her family, friends and boyfriend.

"I'm trying to enjoy my time home while I can," she said. "Because I was definitely homesick."

But she'll be heading back soon. Back to the Dragons, with a refreshed attitude and a rested body.

"I really needed a break, I needed to come home," she said. "I needed to breathe and have some time off.

"I feel like going back now, anything could be possible."

The Dragons resume their ACAA volleyball season Jan. 11 against the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus Rams.


Organizations: Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association, University Dragons, Dalhousie Agricultural Campus Rams

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Pointe-de-l'Église

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