KELOWNA, BC. - The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball team is able to keep a volleyball star at home.
The AAAA provincial championship MVP has is excited about staying home and playing for the Heat next season in UBC Okanagan’s second year in Canada West competition.
Kaitlynn Given, captain of the Kelowna Owls championship squad and MVP of the tournament is a 6’0” outside hitter who looks forward to playing for the Heat in September of 2012.
Kaitlynn’s impressive volleyball resume, other than her Championship MVP, includes playing in the BC Summer Games for Team Okanagan, Team BC 16U in 2010, and 2009 - the latter of which as a 15U athlete - both summers she competed at the Western Canadian Elite Championships on Team BC. Just this past fall Given was voted number three overall in the Provinces top 10 recruits feature, ranking as the top outside hitter in BC.
Given’s high school coach of three years, Tony Sodaro, can’t talk enough about how great of an addition Kaitlynn will be to the Heat program:
“Kaitlynn is clearly one of the best players in the province. When you win MVP at the AAAA championships, you definitely come with some skill. Beyond her amazing power hitting skills and passing ability, she is a tremendous team leader, probably the best captain that I have ever had the chance to work with. She did a great job of bringing in the new Grade elevens this season and making them feel as part of the team as everyone else. She just rises to every challenge I throw her way. I think that’s the thing most people don’t know, but that I appreciate the most”, explains an always enthusiastic Sodaro.
Sodaro likes Given’s chances of contributing to the Heat as soon as even her first year, adding. “I think she’ll bring some quiet confidence right off the bat. She’s an extremely talented power hitter with great ball control skills, she’ll be able to step in and pass at any level. Steve Manuel and Kaitlynn have worked together before, so Steve knows he’s got a gem here. I think she’s just going to be one of those players who comes in and makes an immediate impact.”
Kaitlynn herself also looks forward to entering UBC Okanagan in the fall and has registered as a general studies student. She has decided that home is where the heart is:
“My first choice, when I was younger, I felt that for sure I wanted to go away from home, and I thought I was ready for that,” states Kaitlynn. “Getting the opportunity to watch the Heat play at such a high level made me think about what I really wanted.”
“The players on the team, they all seem amazing. They have such strong personalities that work so well together.”
Coach Steve Manuel is excited to start working with Given:
“We are thrilled that Kaitlynn is joining our program. We have been keeping an eye on this one since she was 14 years old. She stood out then as an athlete with some special abilities and we are happy with how she has progressed throughout her school and club careers.”
On the court Manuel raves about Kaitlynn’s on court abilities adding: “Once you get past the obvious that she is a very good attacker with a great jump and the ability to play well above the height of the net, you start noticing how easily and quickly she moves in the back court and how nice of a touch she has when she is passing the ball.”
“When you take all the above qualities and add that to the fact the she is another proven winner that we are adding to our squad,” says Manuel, “well I believe it’s another great step for our program.”
Kaitlynn will continue to play with the Kelowna Volleyball Club this spring before donning the Heat jersey for coach Manuel and her new teammates in September of 2012.