So I’ll try and trace back to the beginning of my time in Red Deer and give people an idea on what it’s like moving over to Canada and what my first semester was like.
I flew out at the end of August and after over 24 hours of travelling and maybe two hours sleep, our fellow roommate and teammate Cole greeted Adam Turlejski and me at Calgary airport. It was a surreal experience arriving in Red Deer, checking into residence and looking around at what would be home for the next 8 months.
The first week or so is very tiring as a result of being extremely jetlagged. There is also a lot of admin stuff that needs to be organized, eg: bank accounts, phones, health insurance etc. So Adam and I were very fortunate that Cole was a willing taxi driver for us for the first week, driving/waiting for us around town as we got organized. After a week or so we started classes and proper trainings with the team.
There are four different coaches at Red Deer, all ex-student athletes of the college, and all very good players in their own right. I certainly spent the first month or so soaking up what I was being told and working towards being the sort of player they want me to be. The playing group is very even and competitive at a good level. It’s nice having over 12 guys to scrimmage with and the right number for each position at practice. This is quite different to what tends to happen at VVL clubs where there isn’t a consistent level at practice, and there’s almost always too many or too few of certain positions.
We’ve had a good start to the season, and are currently ranked no.1 in the nation with an 11-1 record. Red Deer is a country town, pretty much halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, and there are only about 5000 students at the college. However, we still regularly pack our gym on Friday nights with around 500 people coming to watch, which is a welcome change from the 15 or so people watching on in VVL back home. Besides the Red Deer Rebels (the local ice hockey team), the college sport teams are the next biggest sporting teams in town, particularly the volleyball teams due to their recent success in past years. As a result match reports and articles about the team are always in the paper and talked about on the radio. So once you start playing a few games at home, you start to get known around the college a bit, which is pretty neat.
Our team is set to become stronger in the second semester gaining an experienced right side in fellow Australian Regan Fathers who is coming over to join the team as of January 1st. This will make our roster full with 17 players and is certain to add to the level of practice and strengthen our team further, as we head into second semester in an attempt to win another national title for RDC.
The actual college lifestyle is pretty full on. With your commitments to the team being: 2 hour practices Monday-Thursday, 1 hour video before practice Thursday, games Friday and Saturday (quite often you will spend an average 4 hours on a bus travelling to games per weekend) as well as 3-4 workouts throughout the week. Throw that on top of what you already do as a student: classes, handing in assignments, preparing for presentations, studying for midterms and studying for finals. This is before you factor in the household duties of: cooking, cleaning and shopping, which for four 19 year-old guys living away from home for the first time, two of which don’t have their own car, can take up time on it’s own. Finally, it is college, so you do more than your fair share of partying too!
The actual living in Canada experience is pretty cool, as nearly every person you talk to will pick up on your accent within a sentence or two. And pretty much everyone will automatically like you/find you more interesting because you’re Australian. One thing not so good about Canada is the weather. While it is definitely an experience living in a cold climate and always having snow on the ground, when it gets to -30 degrees it’s pretty unbearable, and I’m told it can get down to -50. At the moment it’s hovering around -10, which isn’t too bad, and it’s got to the point where if it’s 5 degrees outside, it’s considered ‘nice out’.
For athletes thinking of coming to college in Canada, it’s very worthwhile to look into Red Deer, especially for those hoping to spend five years in Canada and complete a degree. As Red Deer is probably the best CCAA college in the country, in the best CCAA conference (the ACAC), and it feeds into three very competitive high level CIS schools in the Canada West, which happens to be the strongest conference in Canada.
I hope this is interesting and informative for those thinking about college, and if you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message on Facebook and ask away.
Until next semester,