A proven performer at the elite level no matter where she finds herself on the floor.
A key contributor in all facets of the game.
That’s how coach Nathan Wareham spoke about Erin Grabka, one of three female volleyball players from Corner Brook who earned a spot on the province’s female volleyball team bound for the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg in August.
“She has the ability to win matches and control the play of a match,” Wareham said of the 17-year-old daughter of Mike and Jeanette Grabka.
Grabka, her younger sibling Hannah and Massey Drive’s Hailey Oke are the Corner Brook trio who will wear Newfoundland and Labrador’s crest in Winnipeg this year.
Erin is making her second appearance at Canada Games. She represented her province in alpine skiing at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in British Columbia.
When she earned a spot with the alpine ski team there wasn’t a lot of training in advance of going away because the team wasn’t picked until months before going away, but when it comes to volleyball she knows she has worked hard for the past four years to find her way to Winnipeg so this is a little more rewarding and exciting for her because it was a tough test for her.
She was nervous when she went to the first tryout camp and didn’t really see herself making the team, but she was pretty happy when she was told she was on the team.
Hannah, who is 15 and a member of the Corner Brook High Titans 4A female volleyball team this year, is excited about playing in the Games because her sister and a handful of her friends went to B. C. a couple of years ago and told her about the great time they had so she wants to experience it herself now.
It’s a good group of athletes who has each other’s back so Hannah has really embraced the idea of being on the same page with a bunch of girls who have a common goal.
“It’s like a whole another family,” Hannah said. “There’s a lot of support for each other.”
Competing against the best in the country is going to be a whole new learning opportunity for Hannah. She still has two mores year of high school volleyball to look forward to after the Games so she’s just going to soak it all up and have a blast doing
“This is going to be a lot of good learning for my next two years and if I want to play in college,” she said.
She’s come a long ways in a short time when you consider she didn’t make the cut when she tried to earn a spot on the provincial team back in 2015.
Oke is a middle blocker with size and versatility on her side as a physical presence on the floor at six-foot-three and coach Wareham says Oke has proven again and again that she can compete with the best in her age group not only in Canada but in the United States.
Oke looks at the trip to Winnipeg as reward for the long hours of training she put in over the past four years. Volleyball is her thing to do so getting a chance to see how she stacks up against the best players in the country is a challenge she’s up for this summer.
“It honestly means the world to me just to have the opportunity to represent my province and just represent what volleyball in the province has become,” she said.
As she has developed through the years, the better she became the tougher the competition became. That’s what she expected and she’s fine with doing whatever it takes to take her game to the next level.
“Obviously the pressure is very high and there’s a lot of stress, but it just makes me want to work harder and it just makes me love volleyball even more when you get to the next level which is where I always want to be,” Oke said.