Anna Dunn came to the Tigers women’s volleyball team as a highly recruited (and highly touted) star from J.L. Ilsley High School in Halifax. She was named to the Canadian Junior team while there, and made a significant impact on the Tigers squad in her first year, finishing fifth on the team in kills.
Her first year with the Tigers ended on a high note as the they went undefeated in the playoffs to win their second consecutive AUS championship, and would go on to finish fourth in the CIS, with Anna making key contributions.
Working hard on the national scene
With a talent-loaded squad full of veterans competing for playing time, Anna got right to work this summer, working to get better and stronger. Starting in May she was working out at least three hours a day as she prepared for Senior B National team tryouts. Though she occasionally trained by herself, Tigers head coach worked with her and Marisa Mota (who also tried out for the national team) three times a week. Assistant coach Jon Elliot also came in to serve for her whenever he was needed.
Fellow Tigers rookie Elizabeth Wright also joined Anna for workouts, and the two definitely knew how to get the best out of each other.
“She and I became workout buddies this summer, which was sweet because we both know how to push each other,” says Wright.
She worked hard at improving her serve receive game, something crucial for her positon, and would pass 100-200 balls every practice. She’s also made significant progress in her arm swing, making it faster and more fluid.
Unfortunately for Anna, she did not make the team, but tryouts were still a very valuable experience for her.
“Tryouts went very well, despite not making the team,” says Anna. “I got to compete with Canada’s top athletes and I got some very positive feedback. I was one of the youngest athletes there and most of the girls were in their fourth or fifth years.”
Despite this minor setback, Anna says the national team is still a dream of hers and she believes she can work hard enough to one day make it a reality.
Once she returned home from tryouts, she scaled back her on-court training to 2-4 days a week, while keeping up with the team’s weight regimen.
Adventure in Ecuador
On July 6, Anna embarked on a life-changing experience as she headed to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador with Help, Learn & Discover. Her program included a tour portion, a volunteer portion as well as a medical rotation program. On top of it all, she got to spend the entire trip with her best friend, Erinn.
Their first stop was on an island named Isabella, where they hiked volcanoes, swam with sea lions, and they even got to play the Ecuadorian version of beach volleyball, called Ecuavolley.
Despite the language barrier, Anna had a great time playing the game she loves with the locals.
“The court culture there was very laid back,” explains Anna. “Most of them were just playing recreationally though they were still pretty competitive amongst themselves. There were also very few women that played, so I was a bit of an anomaly. The language barrier was difficult at times, but thumbs up and high fives are pretty universal.”
She then proceeded to a village in rural Ecuador where she worked for several days to help build homes for underprivileged families.
“Everyone in the community where we helped was really sweet, and everyone participated,” explains Anna. “Children were always playing with us, trying to engage with us and get us to play with them. I’d take a wheelbarrow full of rocks down to the site, and I’d bring it back full of kids!”
Through all of her experience both on and off the court this summer, Anna will look to be a force with the Tigers as she enters her second season this fall.
“I think my work over the summer has really boosted my confidence. My training has prepared me mentally, and obviously physically and technically, to take on a more dominant court presence as a left side,” says Anna. “I think a stronger court presence will allow me to be a better leader on the court and support our incoming players.”
Be sure to catch Dunn and the rest of the Tigers women’s volleyball team at their regular season home opener against Saint Mary’s on November 15.
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