By KIMBERLY TIESSEN
Beacher Ava Roodbol is California bound; leaving her club volleyball career a Canadian national champion.
The 18 year old setter will continue her athletic and academic career at San Jose State University, a move to an elite NCAA Division 1 volleyball program and a dream come true for Roodbol.
Her recruiting journey hasn’t been an easy one as she took a chance after being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic for two years and decided to take a gap year long before she graduated high school in June of 2022.
The decision not only allowed her another year of eligibility in volleyball, but also gave her another year to prepare for the next chapter of her life.
“The pandemic really slowed things down for me,” said Roodbol. “The lockdown provided clarity that I just wasn’t ready mentally and physically for where I wanted to go.”
Even though some reputable Canadian schools came calling, Roodbol never wavered in her desire to play at an NCAA – Division 1 school, so taking a gap year allowed her to continue to play and be seen by U.S. universities once things opened back up again and the risk certainly paid off.
The Youth National Volleyball Championships were held in Calgary last month, and Roodbol’s team MVC (Mountain View Volleyball Club) Everest made club history by winning the national title. But the celebration has been quick as her official reporting day at San Jose State, where the Spartans start training for the upcoming volleyball season, is early July.
SJSU lost to Utah State in the finals last season to clinch their Mountain West Conference and go on to the NCAA Championship tournament. U.S. Conference winners earn a ring, and now Roodbol has set her sights on one. “After holding the Canadian National Cup in Calgary last month, I now want a ring to go with it,” she said.
Having played club volleyball for eight years with a number of clubs including Phoenix Volleyball Club, the Leaside Volleyball Club and the Titans Volleyball Club, Roodbol wanted to go out with a Canadian title.
She was noticed by Hamilton’s MVC Head Coach Albie O’Hanian. “When I signed with MVC last August, I was already on the path of being recruited by some really good U.S. schools, but when I started playing with the incredibly talented players on MVC and coached by some amazing coaches, that’s when new doors started opening for me,” said Roodbol.
She admitted it was hard navigating the recruiting process. When it came down to decisions it had to be the right school, the right coach, the right opportunity to earn a scholarship.
“We just kept saying, every time a door closed, or I turned down a great opportunity that my coach and my school are out there, I just have to be patient and keep the faith,” said Roodbol.
She said the pandemic taught her a lot about being patient. “I found ways to keep playing through COVID, I even travelled to Detroit, Michigan and played for Michigan’s number one volleyball club for a season.”
She said that led to a huge amount of driving back and forth for practices and travelling to tournaments in the U.S. “I’m just lucky to have supportive parents that believed in my dream and allowed me to do all these crazy things,” said Roodbol.
Her dream to play in the U.S. started early. “At 12U, I heard about Canadian kids earning scholarships for the NCAA, and that was it, the seed was planted. I set my sites on Division 1 and I never looked back.”
Along with working on her volleyball skills, Roodbol has also put the focus on school work. She graduated with Head Honours, Honour Roll and with an Ontario Scholar Certificate from Bayview Glen Independent School.
At San Jose State, she will be studying Business with a specialty in Hospitality.
Roodbol continues to train everyday in Toronto in advance of her arrival in San Jose in July.