WEATHER ALERT

Parker healthy and having fun on court

Wesmen volleyball player injury free and having career season

Advertisement

Advertise with us

Emma Parker has suffered through some of the lowest valleys with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen women’s volleyball team, so it’s fitting she’s leading the program to its highest peak in more than a decade in her final year donning the red and white.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $19.00 every four weeks. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled anytime.

Emma Parker has suffered through some of the lowest valleys with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen women’s volleyball team, so it’s fitting she’s leading the program to its highest peak in more than a decade in her final year donning the red and white.

The fifth-year left side from St. Adolphe is enjoying one of her best seasons on the court. Parker, the reigning and two-time team MVP, ranks fifth in the nation with 205 kills and sixth in digs (200) through 16 matches — both are on pace to shatter career bests.

It’s also been one of the healthiest campaigns of her career.

David Larkins / Wesmen Athletics

University of Winnipeg Wesmen volleyball player Emma Parker Parker ranks fifth in the nation with 205 kills and sixth in digs (200) through 16 matches.

Parker’s freshman year got off to a rough start when she sprained her right ankle in the season opener. The injury sidelined her for half the season.

Two years later, right before the pandemic halted sports, Parker tore her labrum, shelving her for eight months. She described the pandemic as a blessing in disguise for her athletic career, however, as it preserved a year of eligibility and provided ample time to fully rehab her shoulder.

“You just don’t realize your health so much until you’re injured,” Parker told the Free Press Thursday. “When I hurt it, I was destroyed. (The doctor) told me I needed surgery and I didn’t want to believe it.

“I was very upset because I was like, ‘I can’t waste another year,’ because you only have five years of eligibility and I love this program so much that I would stay here for five more if I could. But I can’t, so I gotta use every ounce that I can on this program.”

In between those injuries, life on the court wasn’t enjoyable either. The Wesmen women have squeaked into the Canada West playoffs just once during Parker’s tenure and haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2011-12.

Things have changed this season, however, and Parker’s highlight-reel play isn’t the only thing that has her excited to take the court.

“The competition is just so good,” said Parker. “All the teams are just so close together that we have so much fun on the court. I am having fun and that’s what I’m here for, is just to have a good time. But when we’re playing good, is also when we have the most fun.”

Parker has captained her squad to an 11-5 record (22 points), good for a tie for third in the Canada West conference and just six points behind Trinity Western. Winnipeg travels to Regina this weekend to take on the Cougars (2-14) in a two-game mini-series.

“She’s been through a lot and she just keeps improving every year and pushing through,” said Ashleigh Laube, another team captain who has played with Parker for seven years. “She does the work, she’s working really hard. Compared to 18u when I barely knew who she was… she was a really good player back then, like she was just kind of starting out. And throughout her university career, she just kept getting better and better.

“So now playing with her, she’s improved so much and I’m so proud of her and she’s playing really well and she’s one of the top players in Canada West and U Sports, for sure.”

The Wesmen are as hot as anyone in the country right now, winners in seven of their last eight matches and have no doubt surprised many. The team ranked 11th out of 14 in a pre-season conference coaches poll.

Yet, with eight matches remaining in the schedule, the streaking Wesmen not only have a shot to top-seed in the conference but have placed themselves among the country’s best in some important metrics, ranking eighth in assists (633), seventh in kills (673), fourth in blocks (131) and second in digs (926).

Winnipeg is one of the more veteran groups in Canada West, with seven players in their fourth or fifth years. Parker said the team’s poise, which has been forged through years of drought, has worked to their advantage.

Phil Hudson said when he took over the program, the most important thing was instilling enough confidence in his athletes to be able to cope with the roller-coaster of highs and lows that each season presents.

“Three things: performance, development and fun sort of have to exist if you want to develop a culture that allows you to compete, allows you to win, allows you to fail without losing confidence in yourself and your teammates,” the third-year head coach said.

“It’s a lot of fun watching them play at a high level and compete at a high level in practice and stuff. It’s a really good feeling knowing a lot of the things that you’ve been trying to instill in them as far as understanding the tactics, understanding the game, changing on the fly during rallies — it’s starting to demonstrate on the floor.”

jfreysam@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jfreysam

Joshua Frey-Sam

Joshua Frey-Sam
Reporter

Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.

Report Error Submit a Tip

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Sports

LOAD MORE