Photo & Story Credit: Paul Rodgers - Cranbrook Townsman
Claire Newsome, a current grade 12 student at Mount Baker, is the College of the Rockies Women's Avalanche volleyball team's newest signee, set to begin her first season in 2020.
Newsome has been playing the game a long time, since she was in grade five, however it took a while for her love of the game to set in.
"I didn't love it in grade 5 and 6 because it really hurt my arms," she told the Townsman. "And then in grade seven, eight I just liked the competitiveness of it and that it was more of a mental sport than a physical sport."
Newsome is excited to join the ranks of the Avalanche women's volleyball program, because growing up in Cranbrook she's been a fan and has been attending games since she was in grade one.
"I know all the girls and I practised with them a bit up until now," she said. "I've just always liked it here. I like Cranbrook and I want to be home and I like the atmosphere and I think it's really cool to play for a home crowd, that's kind of a big draw. Getting to see everyone cheer for the people that were from here was cool, so it's cool that it's like that's me now."
Head Coach Bryan Fraser said that Newsome has been on his radar for a while, after one of his colleagues made him aware of her shortly after his arrival in Cranbrook this fall.
"I think I would have found her anyways because she's a local and she plays volleyball at a high level and so it's not like it's easy to hide within Cranbrook if you're like that," Fraser said. "She wants to come play here and she has the skill compete in the PacWest so I'm more than happy to have her join our team for next year."
Fraser said he will be looking to add between four and eight girls to the 2020 squad. So far he knows for sure that two players are leaving and the team is also just short in numbers in general this year, but he won't know for sure how many he needs to recruit until after Christmas. As it is college level, players can only do so many years of schooling and some athletes still need to make decisions regarding their future.
He said that adding Newsome to the roster now helps give him some piece of mind regarding the recruitment process.
"It's good to have one that's at a good level because it puts my mind at ease, especially at the outside position, knowing that we have Claire coming in who can potentially contribute right away in her first year and it gives me more options as far as waiting goes and being able to choose who else I can recruit."
He added that having locals on the team is just overall a good thing for players, friends, family and fans alike.
"We're a year away from Claire playing in games and stuff but I think in general it's really great to have a local player on the team," he said. "The guys team right now has four local players and it brings an extra energy to the game when there are local athletes on the team.
"So it's good for the team and then it's also great for the athletes because you get to have your friends and family come and watch and you'll meet even more local people who are coming to support local athletes."
Although still a young a player, Newsome already has numerous accomplishments under her belt. She's played in the Team BC Baden Cup, a four-day high performance development camp for selected athletes, at the 14U and 16U level. She played in 14U, 15U and 18U of the East Kootenay Volleyball Club, and played for Team BC at the Nationals as a starting outside in Halifax this past summer.
She also played in 16U for 403 Selects Volleyball Club with two gold VA medals and a silver medal. She finished second in provincials and tenth in Division 1 Nationals.
Head Coach Bryan Fraser had the following to say about his newest recruit:
"I'm very pleased that we were able to secure an athlete of Claire's quality in November 2019. Claire will be a valuable member of the women's program next season, and has the ability to contribute to the team right away. She has great athleticism and court awareness and is going to develop into a high level volleyball player. She is hard working and really enjoys learning about the game, so I'm looking forward to working with her next season".