CFAs provide a big boost for women’s v-ball team

Robin Short
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Jubinville-Mah and Miller may not be from Newfoundland, but they feel like they belong

Allison Poynter (left) and Catherine Ducey of Newfoundland and Labrador (2) go up to block a ball hit by a Manitoba player as teammate Amanda Whalen (13) looks on during a women’s volleyball match Saturday night at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que. Manitoba won 3-0. — Photo by Robin Short/The Telegram

By Robin Short

Telegram Sports Editor—Sherbrooke, Que.

One is from Victoria, B.C.,and the other from Oromocto, N.B., but Samantha Jubinville-Mah and Lauren Miller have the Newfoundland flag tattooed — well, maybe not literally — on their hearts at these Canada Games.

The pair of 20-year-old Memorial University Sea-Hawks volleyball players are veterans — as if 20 is old — on Newfoundland’s Summer Games team here. They are joined by fellow varsity players Jill Snow, Gill Ricketts and Krista Hogan on the provincial Games team.

What separates Jubinville-Mah and Miller, however, is that both were born and raised and played volleyball elsewhere.

“I feel I belong here,” said the petite 5-3 Jubinville-Mah, who bobs and weaves amongst her taller teammates on the court.

“I feel this is where I should be.”

Jubinville-Mah is the starting libero on the Sea-Hawks, and Miller was an all-star at the 2012 Atlantic University Sport championship.

Both are in St. John’s to attend Memorial, not to mention play volleyball, which makes them eligible to play for the province’s Canada Games team.

According to  Newfoundland’s Canada Games coach Megan Conroy, the two could have vied for positions on their home province’s Games team, but opted to go out for the Newfoundland squad.

“They’ve been living in Newfoundland 180 days, and they’re here for school or work purposes, which goes with the Canada Games policy,” Conroy said.

“These girls as just as much Newfoundlanders as the rest of the girls on this team. They’ve been here for two years, this is where their home is now, this is where their friends are. They wanted to represent Newfoundland.”

Newfoundland has had a rough start in women’s volleyball, falling to 0-3 heading into a match Sunday night against Quebec.

Most of the provinces at these Sherbrooke Games are not short on size and height, and while Newfoundland does have some tall players, many on the roster are between the ages of 16 and 18, save for the Memorial girls.

“We’re a little young compared to some of these other teams which are pulling their players from the CIS teams, training for a month or a month and half and coming here,” Conroy said.

For Jubinville-Mah, the journey across the country to Newfoundland ended first at the University of New Brunswick-Saint John, where she spent one year.

She wasn’t particularly keen on that situation, and contacted Sea-Hawks coach Bill Thistle regarding a tryout for the Sea-Hawks.

That was two years ago, and she is now a key player on the Memorial roster.

“I can see why,” Conroy said. “Juby is a very mature player, plays very steady.

“We can depend on her to stand her ground. She’s not on a roller coaster, up and down. She’s very dependable.”

“A lot of my family was joking around with me, wondering if I’m trying to get away from mother, like as far as possible,” laughed the personable British Columbian about her move from one coast to another.

“Honestly, I just love traveling and my family supports me 100 per cent. I don’t go back very much, even though Victoria is very pretty.

“I do like St. John’s. It’s a lot smaller and honestly, I’ve been all over Canada and nothing really compares.”

Following these Games, Jubinville-Mah, along with Miller, Ricketts, Snow and Hogan, return to the Sea-Hawks and the quest to win that elusive AUS championship banner.

While Jubinville-Mah has two years of eligibility remaining, she will play only one more season as she intends to graduate early with an eye towards working in the adventure tourism field.

Organizations: Sea-Hawks, Canada Games, Atlantic University Sport University of New Brunswick-Saint John Sea-Hawks.That

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Victoria, Oromocto Canada

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Recent comments

  • West coast of NL mom
    August 23, 2013 - 12:42

    We Newfoundland parents of the women's vball team selection pool understand and do not question the fact these two girls were members of this team. It was all done legally. What is so frustrating is the girl from BC was attending Univesity in NB. She was in a different province when try outs were held. There was no communication in the beginning that another try out would happen a year down the road. This selection pool was travelling and competing as a team. She came to Newfoundland the fall of 2012 and placed in the pool and some were dropped. There was no communication from the coaching staff that this w a possibility. This was frustrating. Also the lady from NB has been here in Newfoundland fir two yers so when the first round of try outs happened.she did not try out an also went back to NB to play in the selection pool for Canada Games for NB. Her club states she was not trying out but why was she playing the summer of 2012 against NL in Manitoba in an NTCC tournament. The NLTeam stod on the opposite side of the net and played against her. The 24 Gris fom the pool come home from a summer of training and are dropped so these girls can walk into the pool. Thatis what stings. Nothing personal though.

    August 19, 2013 - 09:08

    I AM ALSO SAD, DISAPPOINTED AND EXTREMELY FRUSTED ON HOW THIS TEAM SELECTION PROCESS WAS HANDLED! Being the parent of one of the volleyball players that got cut after they decided to open up the tryouts to outsiders. She was told right from the beginning that she would have to dedicate TWO YEARS to tryout for this team, (missing Christmas, Easter and many family event during the summer (weddings, major birthdays for her grandparents and family members) so we understand the dedication it takes to become a better player and part of the team and so did my daughter. Do you know how it feels to try your hardiest and know once they opened this up NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU PLAYED AND HOW MUCH YOU HAD TO GIVE UP ONLY TO BE TOLD THAT YOU WERE NOT IN SHAPE TO MAKE THE TEAM? This being said she also went on to win the provincial title for the track and field team (high jump 100m and 400m etc.), athlete of the year in her high school, played numerous other sports such as ball hockey, soccer, badminton and many other awards so tell me something else other than she was not in shape. GIVE ME A BREAK! We also had to pay for her travel to and from St. John's plus accommodations, money to send her to Winnipeg, and Nova Scotia as part of the tryouts for this team. Many of our own elite volleyball players in this province, not just my daughter, got left behind just to make room for these so called CFAs. As far as I am concerned the coaching team knew right from the being that they were going to open up the tryout and that these other athletes would not have to give up as much as the girls from this province had to give up (the two years) and the cost that goes with the two years. As for the "Star Players" I thought that this was a team sport?? I do agree with one of the previous comments that the NLVA executive should resign and make room for someone who will be fair and look at the individual player and not just because you are a CFA and think that they are any better than our own players. I also don't understand why the interviews were always about the two CFAs? Why weren't some of the Newfoundland players ever interviewed? You may think this is sour grapes, it is not, if it was done on a level playing field and above board then nothing would be said on my part but it was NOT. Just feel bad for our own players that gave up the two years for nothing when the coaches knew full well that they were going to pick up these other players. Nothing against these two girls, my beef is with the coaching staff and how they did this.

  • Jed Dorsey
    August 15, 2013 - 11:29

    It's like having a Unionized position. You can be bumped.......nobody likes to get bumped either Tina. How was she eligible to play if he was taking nine courses. Is that not a eligibility standard as well as being a resident for 180 days. Yes my dear you have great accomplished daughter that anybody should be proud of but step in the other players court shoes before you suggest we feel bad because she don't fel welcome.

  • R u for real
    August 14, 2013 - 07:00

    If she is so accomplished in the sport, why was she not the setter for BC? She could have been on a second placing team. Not getting the picture here if she was so focused on the sport why was she playing for NL. Surly BC had the team selected before she tried out in Nl. We are very patriotic people and support our athlete 110%. Canada Games Eligibity stated you had to be available for all training. Was she available for all training. I think she was very lucky to have stayed on the team so don't have the nerve to say she felt unwanted. I think she was accommodated nicely.

    • A Proud Mother of a Newfoundlander
      August 15, 2013 - 09:29

      Some very good questions. Team BC identification camps are usually held during Christmas break, but actual try-outs for this Team BC team took place in late March 2013. My daughter was attending MUN and is currently taking 9 courses during the 4 month summer break. Canada Games Eligibility has the 180 day ruling in place for exactly that reason. So elite athletes that can't attend try-outs in their own provinces and are attending schools around the country are not penalized and can still compete in the games. They still must compete to gain a position on the team they are representing. That being said she had already decided at the beginning of April 2012 that she would try-out for Team NL because that is where she would be living and she should represent the place where she hangs her hat. It was with joy, great pride and honour she was selected to represent Team NL. Some other things that might interest you are Team BC try-outs happens every year either in late March or early April and are aged based according to what events are happening over the summer months. With Team BC there is never a guarantee that if you made it one year you will be selected the next. It is ever evolving. Also, most often just because you are identified and selected to train with Team BC it doesn't necessarily mean you will be selected to travel to competition. You might spend a month in training camp just before competition and then your journey ends while other's journey continues. There are only a couple of girls from the BC Canada Games team that have been on the team for a couple of years. As for training my daughter did not attend Florida, along with others who did not attend, as she had exams that she couldn't miss. She was already having some of her final exams deferred to attend the Games itself. I do believe that this is an acceptable reason under Canada Games Eligibility. Lastly, why would she not be setting instead training as a libero. One word, height. It doesn't matter how talented you are eventually as a setter height is a determining factor on you getting to the highest levels in volleyball. 5' 7" is extremely short in the volleyball world a 5'3" setter at the national level unheard of. She didn't want to become stagnant she wanted to learn, grow and become even better. That is why after playing with the girls in March 2012 she chose to attend MUN. There she was there to learn from one of the best defensive players in Canada. Enough said.

  • Proud mom of a true Newfoundlander
    August 13, 2013 - 21:15

    Thanks for your prospective Tina. So glad your daughter has such high regard for our great province. Still doesn't mean a row of beans to NLers who have been training with the NLVA since grade seven. Spending every summer, Christmas vacation, long weekend and Easter break to train in hopes of reaching her ultimate goal of playing Canada Games with her team mates who she has been playing with for years. She gave all the same commitments as your daughter and as a family gave all the same financial strains as you. Again thanks but doesn't mean a row of beans to the NLer who is watching her team mates of many years playing with out. And I am sure the team and coaches made her feel right at home so save the sentiment.

    August 13, 2013 - 07:55

    It is with great sadness, disappointment and extreme frustration that I am responding to most of the comments. Speaking about the Canada Games outcome, please remember it is a TEAM sport. They ALL rise and fall as a team! The joy of volleyball is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to succeed with a few "star players". Did they perform to the best they should have? No, but did they represent? Yes! Now regarding the "CFAs", my daughter did not just come to NL for just university alone, she gave up a several volleyball scholarship offers at top Universities in ON and AB to play volleyball in the Atlantic. To her it was about the experience and learning about a new way of life, one that boasted about the small town living, the kindness of strangers and the beauty of the environment she is living in. She chose to leave her university in NB, as a setter with scholarship offers and as Rookie of the Year in the ACAA to become part of what was suppose to be the start to a new volleyball family, because to her volleyball wasn't just about the game and being the best, it is also about learning, growing together, supporting one another and pushing yourself to become even better!!! She has sacrificed time away from her friends and family to become part of NL! There has been some bright spots, but also some EXTREMELY negative and hurtful experiences. To go through a WHOLE volleyball season and now summer games, as an outsider knowing that no one wants you there, not because of your skills but because of where you come from, because you have stolen a place from someone that "belongs" from there. She didn't take a place from someone else. She EARNED her place! She has put in the relentless hours of practices, the years of dedication, the years of not hanging out with friends and family and untold amounts of $$ to pursue a dream. SHE CHOSE NL!! I raised her to believe that WHEREVER you hang your hat it is your home. Treat it with respect, kindness, be responsible and give back. She has taken an active part in what is happening in NL not just as a volleyball player but as a citizen. She has done nothing but promote "your" province to the outside world through sport, bringing focus to environmental issues and tourism. She has had the incredible luxury and earned the right of being trained by some of the top coaches in both Canada and the USA. She has so much knowledge she wants to offer and share, but instead you slam her and make her want to leave! She has not only the knowledge but the skill to help grow your younger players. Despite how people view her, she has been asked and will share that know how with the younger players from around HER PROVINCE NL because it is where she chose to hang her hat. NL is where she lives, works, who she represents and the colours she chose to wear! You want to make your NLVA players strong it starts with an attitude, the attitude of hard work, earning your spot, pushing harder than anyone else is willing to push and MOST IMPORTANTLY respect and learning from those that have something to teach no matter where they are from! Someday your child or grandchild may be seeking the opportunity to excel or live a new experience and hopefully as a "CFA" they will be treated better than my daughter has been. They will be welcomed with open arms, because there will be someone like me making sure that they are taken care of, loved and cherished for all they have to offer, as they deserve to feel like they belong because that is where they CHOSE to Hang THEIR Hat!!! Respectfully, Tina Jubinville

  • Sue Critch
    August 11, 2013 - 16:55

    Really? That's what we are saying? Our government should be ashamed if that' what they are saying. Who is uneducated now. Unreal!

  • Bob
    August 11, 2013 - 16:42

    If my child trained with a provincial program who gladly took my money every year to provide my child with elite training and then replaced her with a CFA (Mr. shorts reference). I would be livid. NL should support NL. If these kids were so great why not play for their own province. They were eligible.

  • Glenn L
    August 11, 2013 - 16:36

    Why not just call it the CFA games instead. Team NL should be athletes the PSO recognize through their own NLVA training. And should be a team comprised of godd ol home girlls.

  • Grace Walsh
    August 11, 2013 - 15:52

    I do believe in 2009 the girls volleyball placed 9th so they did not do better. No one is not saying that these girls are nor committed or talented. The problem is the NLVA takes parents money year after year to train our NL volleyball players and in the end they are replaced by girls who came from another province. The comments are far from uneducated and can be backed up by a lot of the gossip at the Tim's Coffee Shop as everyone was frustrated with this. This is just not one persons opinion. It is mostly the whole volleyball community based o n the number of emails the NLVA received after the selection in November. We are proud of our hard working talented athletes and believe in them. Just wish our PSO believed in them as they are the ones training them.

    August 08, 2013 - 09:35

    ^ Don't you love uneducated comments. Before one should comment, they should really nail home the facts. Research every team and you will find that players have changed since the first tryout pool. 180 days of residency in the province gives you access to a team, and every Canadian province takes advantage of that. "Guess we are saying to these girls, sorry you were not good enough", that's exactly what they are saying. If you have ever played a sport you would realize players have to fight for their position. So bring in as many good players as possible and have them fight for who wants that starting role the most. I will tell you right now, those girls could have done a lot better than 9th and should have, but sometimes that is just the way it goes. Without the"CFA's" (a terrible title that labels citizens of the province), they probably would have finished closer to last. In addition to this, if you also did your research this is the best the NLVA has done over the passed ten years. We are an Atlantic province among huge provinces such as Ontario and all Western provinces. Where the only invitation you get to a tryout is based on if you have a scholarship to university or not. The NLVA is improving each year, but for now they take what they can get. So why not get a few more "CFA's", apparently the athletes we are training in the province are not quite making the cut. Great job ladies on your performance this weekend, we all know at heart you deserved better. The next Canada Games will be better. As to the comment above, save your rambling gossip for a story at Tim Horton's on a Sunday morning.

      August 10, 2013 - 22:23

      I think the first comment is more educated than the second. The fact that you are supporting CFA's proved you do not support your provinces athletes. Why not install more programs and training so that OUR athletes can represent us. If you take a team of CFA's how are they representing NL! I do not understand why it is so important to place high with non nl athletes instead of trying to train our own athletes and showcase our talent. These girls that come from other provinces are here for university, and university only. They didn't grow up here, work their entire life to play a sport they love for their home province! The fact that you are putting so much emphasis on outside athletes is disgusting. There are over two hundred other athletes that attended the games, and I do believe a young nl girl broke a record during her first game! Where was the report on that? Why aren't we congratulating her??? Instead you write a story about two athletes who haven't even lived here more than 2 years. It's despicable. These CFA's added nothing but two places on the team. There are several other girls from this province that trained here their entire lives that were just as good or BETTER than the CFA's. To the person supporting the athletes who come from outside the province you should be ashamed. Where is your nl pride? Perhaps you're a CFA because if you truly were a Newfoundlander you would support your own. Who cares where you place, support your own! If anything it makes the coaches look bad considering they are the ones who run all the camps and train the athletes, they are pretty much saying they can't train athletes to be good enough. And they are out coached every time! NLVA, it's time to take the NL out of your name because you are not supporting the athletes you've groomed.

  • Not Big enough
    August 05, 2013 - 16:34

    It's obvious that the boost is not BIG enough! Right now Team NL is in last place in their division! These two girls were not part of the regular pool that tried out for the games team. A special try out was held just so these CFA's could try out. What about those girls who have trained with the NLVA for the past five years? guess we are saying to these girls, sorry you were not good enough so we have to go outside the province to find some players. What about the comments made by Michelle Healey (Chef de Mission) regarding the preparation of our athletes for two years prior to the games. I have an idea - lets recruit the team from other provinces. I guess a coach is willing to do anything to help improve their chances of placing better then other years. Looks like this backfired! Who will take responsibility for the poor showing at this games. I believe this is or one of the worst showings at a Canada Games. Parents should call for a resignation of the NLVA executive for ratifying this team. Perhaps you can do a story on this instead of promoting the CFA's who will move on in a few years.