When the first serve flies on the Dinos women’s volleyball season, there will be plenty of fresh faces looking to set, block and spike their way to a Canada West championship.
The 2023-2024 roster features six rookies, including Anya Fehr. The six-foot-three setter joins the Dinos after spending the summer overseas competing for the Canadian national team at the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Girls' U19 World Championship in Croatia and Hungary.
“My biggest takeaway from that experience was how crazy-good some of these other countries are,” Fehr recalls. “Being able to see and compete against that level of competition was really special and is a great motivator for me to become better.”
Competing at the worlds was the pinnacle of a two-year journey for Fehr. It began with her sending tape into the National Excellence Program, a three-month program designed to prepare athletes to perform at the highest level of the sport. After submitting her video, she was invited to an ID camp in Edmonton.
“I thought I was never going to make it, I just wanted to try out and see what happened,” the environmental sciences student says. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to play for Team Canada.”
But she did make it and spent last fall training in the National Excellence Program, and she was among a group of 19 athletes who were selected to make up the youth national team.
She’ll now bring her talents to the University of Calgary, fulfilling her desire to spend the next part of her volleyball journey in Canada and playing in the Canada West conference.
“I found U of C was a really good option because they were actively recruiting people in my year and at my position,” she explains. “It’s more attractive of an option because they want you.”
Though this is her first experience as a university student-athlete, she says her time in the National Excellence Program was great preparation, as they were balancing volleyball and school.
“The biggest adjustment has been the jump from high school to university, which is a big one,” she says. “I’m just figuring out how to balance learning so much and still being able to give everything I can to the team.”
Fehr says the team itself is on an upward trajectory, and they’ll only keep getting better in the coming years.
She says their rise has coincided with other universities entering a rebuilding stage in their programs, so the Dinos should be well positioned to compete for Canada West titles and play in the national championships.
Fehr says the team has a better chance of winning this year than in previous years, and she’s looking forward to doing everything she can to help the team win it all.
“I don’t think that goal is shooting for the stars,” she says. “I think winning is more than attainable.”