IT'S the dawn of a new cycle for the Canadian women's volleyball team, a genesis that holds a range of emotions for those still getting over the disappointment of not qualifying for the London Olympics.
"It was tough. It was four years of hard work for the players, and everything you worked for you didn't achieve, so it was difficult to accept," assistant coach Scott Koskie said at the Investors Group Athletic Centre after the coaching staff put a large group of national team hopefuls through the paces Wednesday morning. "At the same time, we're here to start over and figure out a way to get there in four years."
With up to a dozen players leaving the senior team after a disappointing loss in the final Olympic qualifier earlier this month, Volleyball Canada has invited 49 players from across the country to Winnipeg for the national selection camp. The roster turnover has possible replacements amped up.
"It's the national team -- this is why you play the sport," said Winnipegger Tricia Mayba, who just finished her fifth year with the Manitoba Bisons. "I've been with the national program for two years and I didn't make the squad that went to the qualifier, so I'm excited to start from the ground zero again."
Mayba, 22, has an extra challenge this week. The coaches have asked her to change positions, moving her from the left side into the middle, where she's never played before.
"I'll play wherever they want me to to make this team," she said.
Canada will keep around 30 players from the camp, splitting them up into two groups. The A team and the B team will stay in Winnipeg and train together for the next month before a final senior team roster is selected for the 2012 Pan Am Cup in July.
"Hopefully that will form the base of the talent pool for the next four years," Koskie said.
While the national program has depth at the CIS and NCAA levels, Canada's target for the next four years is to gain as much global exposure as possible. The NORCECA zone, the international grouping Canada plays within, has done a good job of organizing events for different age groups to help in the development of athletes, so the challenge for Canada is to identify players at young ages. Canada needs to start the process again, Koskie feels.
"That's what we're aiming for," he said. "Some of the players are a little further along (older) than we'd like, but that's just the reality of our situation. We do have some players here who are just starting to come into their own."
Lisa Barclay, a second-year player from the University of British Columbia, is one of those players.
Just 19 years old, the 6-foot-2 left side hitter from Brandon was a member of Canada's B team in 2011 and has already won two CIS titles. On top of that, she was named the most valuable player at the CIS nationals this past year.
She comes into the camp with a lot of confidence.
"It's a different level here," she said. "Everyone is a lot stronger and taller. I've been to few these of camps before, so the pressure is nothing new, but I want to make sure I'm progressing as a player. I don't want to just be 'that young kid' anymore.
"I want to show that I'm ready to take the next step."
A list of the Manitoba athletes vying for a spot on the Team Canada A and B women's volleyball teams this summer. Workouts at the selection camp, which started Tuesday, wrap up at the Investors Group Athletics Centre today:
Tricia Mayba, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Lisa Barclay, University of British Columbia, Brandon
Kristi Hunter, University of Manitoba, Roblin
Taylor Pischke, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Megan Cyr, North Carolina State University, St. Andrews
Kellie Baker, University of Brandon, Brandon
Amanda Bakker, University of New Brunswick, Winnipeg
Kate Wasyliw, University of Manitoba, Russell
Mayba, Hunter and Wasyliw all completed their CIS eligibility this past season, while Pischke, the offspring of Bisons men's volleyball Garth Pischke, is a recent transfer to Manitoba after a season in California.
Barclay, just 19, was named the most valuable player of the 2012 CIS women's championship, leading the T-Birds to their fifth straight national title.
One other player, Tesca Andrew-Wasylik from Unionville, Ont., finished her career with the Winnipeg Wesmen last season.
Mayba, Hunter, Barclay and Andrew-Wasylik were members of the Canadian senior 'B' team that competed at the FISU games in China last summer.