On Monday evening practice, the 17U and 18U 403 Selects teams were given a very special opportunity, when they were joined by National Team libero Jessie Niles.

Niles held an impromptu inspirational Q+A with the group of athletes & coaches, prior to running them through a few drills on the hardcourt.

Just a couple of Pandas – Jessie and 17U coach Sierra were teammates at University of Alberta!

She then hopped in with the 17U team drills and gameplay for the remainder of practice.

Niles suited up for the University of Alberta Pandas from 2011 to 2016, but actually didn’t start playing libero until late in her freshman season. She ended her university career #1 atop Pandas all-time digs records. (Wow!) She was named Pandas Volleyball MVP in her final two seasons (2014-15, 2015-16) and was named Canada West Student-Athlete of the Year in her final season.

“Jump on every opportunity you can.”

image courtesy: volleyball canada

“All of those extra touches and extra reps will make a difference in the long run,” said the Pandas alum.

“Take control of your own destiny – really be mindful in the way that you practice. I have a little journal that I write in every practice.”

When asked about what she had done over the years to keep herself healthy for post secondary, national team, professional and beyond, she stressed the importance of physical fitness.

Niles also mentioned mental training as being super important, as well as working on the mental side of the game as you would any other skill.

A big THANK YOU to you Jessie for volunteering your knowledge to help our girls and for being such a positive female role model! All the best in the future.