August 25, 2016 - 11:08 AM
OKANAGAN - The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball team add another Kelowna product and Junior Heat club player with Quinci Birker deciding to stay in Canada and play indoor for the 2016-17 season.
This fall the Kelowna Secondary grad will continue to train in the gym she has competed and trained in for years, but now in a CIS uniform.
“After playing on Junior Heat for four years I have a taste of what it's like to play for an incredible program. Being able to see the team in action and how well everyone gets along has been a great motivation to choose UBCO. From the coaching staff to my future team members I have felt as if I can come on the team and work hard with people that are giving it their all,” the five-foot-ten outside hitter explained.
As a member of the Junior Heat team throughout high school, Birker, along with club and future UBCO teammates: Natalie Livingstone, Aidan Lea and Sydney McKinlay, were coached by Heat Heat assistant coach Becki Kosinski and, on many occasions, mentored by UBC Okanagan head coach Steve Manuel, the reigning CIS coach of the year.
These strong connections made through Birker's years with the Junior Heat program have made the Kelowna Secondary graduate ready and eager for the new challenge within the CIS.
“The women’s varsity volleyball team has continued on a strong path to success and I am excited to be able to compete at such a high level with them. The coaching staff for the women’s volleyball team has been outstanding for the past years, and to be coached by such amazing people is what really helped me make a decision on which school to go to,” Birker said.
Head coach Steve Manuel, who finished his most recent season with a third place finish at the national tournament, has added nine Junior Heat players to his roster over the past few seasons with the Heat and noted Birker's devotion to the program.
“Having Quinci join the Heat is great news for our program. When it comes to competing, they don’t get much more competitive than Quinci. She is just out of high school but she is among Canada’s elite in beach volleyball, already competing and beating some of the top adult players that we have."
"While beach volleyball has been her passion, Quinci is quite an accomplished indoor player as well," continued Manuel. "She will bring intensity to our training, and I consider her to be a great leader on and off the court. Attending UBC Okanagan and playing for the Heat will allow Quinci to continue competing on the beach while getting an education and training/playing indoor during the winter months."
Birker’s volleyball highlights come from the indoor court as well as the outdoor game, as she has captured the 2015 and 2016 all star award, and Bronze (2015) and Silver (2016) at the Club Provincial Championships with the Junior Heat.
On the beach the talented beach player was able to take the gold at the 2016 Jim Clive Cup, Pro and Go, and made the U20 Canada Summer Games, where she earned a gold medal with her team. This summer Quinci played in numerous Pro tournaments, usually as the youngest tea, and more often than not ended placing. (Story from Warren Henderson - Kelowna Capital News).
As this new chapter with the Heat begins, she is also starting her academic career in the management program. Her answer for choosing this department of studies was simple as she stated, “the business program at UBCO will give me a broad opening to my future path.”
Birker will join three other graduates of the Junior Heat program on the varsity squad, Sydney McKinlay, 5’11” outside hitter from Penticton, B.C., Natalie Livingston a 6’1” setter/outside hitter from Immaculata high school and former Kelowna Owl, and a transfer from the University of Colorado in 6’5” middle Aidan Lea.
Sara McCreary (5'10" S, Edmonton, AB) and Brooklyn Reynolds (6'3" M, Regina, SK) are the two incoming players from outside the Okanagan along with Jennifer Oakes (Calgary, AB) a member of Canada's sitting olympic team.
The Heat will open training camp at the end of August and will play an exhibition schedule that will take them to Dalhousie in Halifax and the University of Ottawa in September before opening their conference schedule at home on October 28 and 29 when they host the Brandon Bobcats. Find the full schedule here.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016