KELOWNA, B.C. - The Heat women's volleyball program have added 6'3" middle Ann Richards to the 2017/18 season's roster. Richards will be transferring to UBC Okanagan from the University of Central Florida, where she played her first three seasons of post-secondary ball.
Richards, born and raised in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, will bring experience along with a long and impressive volleyball resume to UBCO.
With her Assiniboia high school team, Ann was named co-captain in her grade 11 and 12 seasons, and earned consecutive MVP honours those same seasons. In club competition, she played for the 17U Assiniboia Aces side in her grade 10 year, finished second provincially with the 18U JCVC side in her grade 11 year, and finished third in the province in her grade 12 year with the Regina Volleyball Club's 18U squad.
Richards also competed in the 16U Canada West Championship with Team Saskatchewan in 2012, was chosen as a 17-year-old to play with Team Saskatchewan (21U) in 2013 at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and was a member of a Project China team that traveled to Shanghai in December 2012.
In 2014, her freshman year at UCF, Ann was named to the American All-Academic Team, and with her Knights team earned a spot in the NCAA tournament after winning the American Athletic Conference title. She started every match of her 2015 season at middle, and finished with a 3.0 GPA. In the 2016 season, her last with UCF, Ann branched out to play at left and right side as well as middle, earned All-Tournament honours, and finished her spring semester with a 4.0.
"I chose UBCO because they are giving me an opportunity to earn a fine arts degree while being a student athlete," said Richards of her transfer. "While making my decision to come to UBCO I heard great things and connected well with Steve Manuel. When I came on my visit to Kelowna the beginning of January I felt as though I could contribute positively to the team and have a good experience."
Richards will likely be right at home in the successful Heat program, as her family has a history of volleyball achievement both in U Sports and beyond. "My mom and dad, Bruce and Sherry Richards, both won U Sports national championships [Then the CIAU] in 1978-79 while playing for the U of S Huskies," said Ann, adding, "my mom also played for Canada's national team. My sister Elizabeth Richards played for Montana State Northern for four years, and my brother William competed with the Waterloo Warriors for two seasons."
Ann also has two cousins (Ben Saxton and Graham Vigrass) who competed for Team Canada volleyball sides at the Rio Olympics, and a third (Camille Saxton) who has joined the Team Canada beach volleyball program after playing for Oregon State.
"We couldn’t be happier that Ann has decided to join our Heat program," said Heat head coach Steve Manuel. "She has the ability to make an immediate impact, she is a very physical athlete and her playing experience will be key for our team. We could tell right away when Ann visited campus that she is a great fit for our team, a hard worker, great teammate and driven to succeed on and off the court."
"I look forward to bringing my competitive spirit and playing experience back to Canada," said Richards, "Kelowna is a beautiful location where I can play volleyball and create art at the same time."
As a student at UBC Okanagan, Richards will be picking up academically where she left off at Central Florida. "While at UCF I studied Art Education and now I am attending UBCO to earn my Bachelors of Fine Arts. I intend on completing my education degree afterwards to be able to teach in a school, gallery, or museum. I hope to one day be a successful full time artist."
Richards is the third player to commit to the Heat program next fall, a team that graduated just three players, along with two local players in Sadie Taylor-Parks (6-1 M, Kelowna) and MacKenzie Wallace (6-1 M, Lake Country-George Elliot).
The Heat women's volleyball, coming off of four straight Canada West Final Four appearances, will have their 2017/18 CW conference schedule released to the public on Wednesday, June 21. Check for details at goheat.ca.