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A champion of volleyball joins the Canadore team

Sep 27, 2023 | Vanessa Tignanelli, Storyteller & Content Creator

Alice Champion photo

There’s a new Head Coach in town – and she’s just as excited about us as we are about her!

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Alice Champion (29) has played as a professional volleyball player in Brazil, USA, and Canada. She has played at some of the highest levels of volleyball throughout her young adult years, from clubs like Bradesco in Brazil, to moving to United States to play NCAA.

Her determination stems from humble beginnings in São Paulo. After losing her father at a young age, volleyball became an important emotional outlet. Yet the sport also opened opportunities for education and travel that would not have otherwise been accessible to her or her family.

In addition to undertaking the challenges of being a student-athlete, Alice's third year of university had her facing a dislocated shoulder at her very first exhibition match which took a toll on her athletic career and mental health.

I moved back home to care for myself,” she explains. “I believe that my struggle as a student-athlete helps me relate deeply to my athletes. Knowing that you can help people overcome their hardships through sport is the highlight of coaching for me."

Since 2017, Alice has been coaching volleyball in Prince Edward Island. She has brought multiple wins to Holland College, high schools and provincial teams, including ACAAs, Canada Cup, and First Club Nationals.

Now she has decided to pursue a new challenge.

Last month, Alice moved her young family from PEI to North Bay to begin her work as Head Coach of the Canadore College Women’s Varsity Volleyball team, bringing her focus on mental health, teamwork, and professionalism to the court. The team has already noticed a shift.

“It’s almost like a new start,” says player Carlie Pappano, a second year Criminal Justice student that played for the team last year. “We’re already developing new systems and it’s nice to have a coach that everyone feels fully invested in.”

“She is so decorated as a volleyball player and you can tell by how she coaches,” adds Julia Reynolds, second year Practical Nursing student and returning athlete. “She brings a lot of energy and personal experience in women’s volleyball to us. Everything we do has a purpose. We trust her a lot.”

Alice’s exposure to different coaching philosophies over her career extends both on and off the court, from strengthening exercises to emotional sharing circles. Understanding the pressures of being an athlete, and the strategies that helped following her own injury, Alice believes that honest and open communication is the only way to build trust between a coach and her players.

When asked whether Alice’s teambuilding philosophies have already been implemented in their training, the team laughs in unison, describing the previous weekend’s tear-filled team bonding session that lasted over three hours. 

“It was like group therapy,” says Melissa McFadden, another Panther veteran and second year Business student. “Everyone had a chance to share what their hardships and struggles are. Even Alice shared her own. It helped us understand where everyone is at, to create a deeper connection and learn how to be there for your teammates and your coach as well.”

“I’ve always had male coaches, so I’ve never had the opportunity to connect with a coach on a mental basis,” says Kira Fahrbach, first year Strength & Sport Conditioning student and rookie to the team. “I feel she understands what we’re going through because she’s been there.”

It is clear that everyone is feeling grateful to have someone like Alice Champion leading our team’s success. Yet she feels just as grateful to have discovered her dream job in a place like North Bay.

“I had learned from such a young age that if you’re not performing, you’re done,” explains Alice. “After my recovery, I decided I was only going to go to places that have a sense of community, and when I came to Canadore it was a match made in heaven. I felt like part of a family right away. I didn’t really have a family growing up, so to have that has always been my number one goal. I want to be surrounded by people that share the same mindset, and I feel like that at Canadore.”

Using her experiences as a guide, Alice has big plans for the Panthers volleyball team: to visit the United States or Brazil to experience playing volleyball abroad; to use her connections with agents and scouts worldwide for students that wish to continue playing professionally beyond Canadore College; and to scout international athletes that may not otherwise be able to afford to pursue education in Canada. 

“Volleyball gave me everything that I have in life,” says Alice. “I want to give back to the sport, and help my athletes win both on and off the court.”

The team is currently in its pre-season training and will have their first game on October 21st. Check out the full schedule here and support our Panthers this upcoming season!

#Athletics, Rec, Wellness #Sport and Wellness