Erin Grabka didn’t need a lot of time to make a big discovery in her rookie season in the Altantic University Sport varsity women’s volleyball setup.
The former star with the Corner Brook Titans 4A volleyball team is a first-year nursing student at Memorial University who is trying to find her way on the court against some pretty talented girls from all over the country.
“I discovered how passionate the athletes are,” Grabka said Tuesday afternoon. “These athletes really want to win and they want to be the best person they can be and the best student they can be.”
Grabka found it refreshing to find herself surrounded by both teammates and opponents who had a desire to be the best because they loved the game.
She was one of those passionate girls when she was playing volleyball for her high school. However, other than a select few, she said, there weren’t many players who took the sport very seriously and were content to play the game for fun and friendships. She felt like nobody really possessed the love of the game like the players she sees on the court now.
Grabka is a multi-sport athlete. She represented her province in alpine skiing at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and indoor volleyball at the 2017 Canada Games. She graduated from Corner Brook High in 2017.
She started her post-secondary journey by attending Grenfell Campus last year and she got some touches on the ball in the local women’s league and helped Nathan Wareham coach at the junior high level.
She realized she wanted to pursue a career in nursing after one year at Grenfell. She could have stayed at Grenfell to accomplish that goal, but a desire to get back in the competitive volleyball environment made her head east.
She decided Memorial was the place to be because she could try to earn a spot with the Sea-Hawks while working on her degree.
Other than having to adjust to a hectic schedule with so many practices every week, life as a Sea-Hawk has been everything she hoped for. She was welcomed with open arms by the players and that was a pleasant surprise because she was worried it wouldn’t be so welcoming.
Being the new person is never easy.
Now, she’s just happy to be a part of the team and getting to travel and meet new friends.
She has always felt welcome and loves the atmosphere whether she’s on the floor for a couple of points or cheering on her team mates from the sidelines.
She’s no longer nervous about trying to fit in with a group who doesn't waver in their desire to be among the elite. She didn’t figure she was going to find anybody who had more passion than her about the game, but she’s glad she did.
Now she’s motivated to put more effort into her training, so she can become the player she wants to be.
“It still amazes me how serious it really is. It’s only my first year and I’m still trying to figure it all out,” she said.