Former Gaels volleyball player Colleen Ogilvie, Sc’13, has signed a professional contract to play volleyball in Poitiers, France. The mechanical engineering graduate will be spiking, serving and setting this fall.
What has it been like since you've signed your first pro contact?
I signed the initial contract in April. It has been very exciting but also stressful. I've never been to Europe so I don't know what to pack! There has been a lot of work to do, such as going through several contract agreements, apartment hunting and visa applications. All the legal documents are in French which I don't speak well so it has been a steep learning curve to learn a new language.
Going into your first season what are your expectations?
I know volleyball in Europe is a very different game from North America, so I'm expecting this to be a challenging experience and a very good opportunity for me to grow as an athlete. I am preparing myself as best as I can this summer to have a successful first professional season with Poitiers. I have done one year with the Full Time Training Centre, so I already know what it is like to have volleyball as my sole focus- rather than trying to balance volleyball with an engineering course load at Queen's. I'm very lucky that I can bring that experience with me.
What went into your decision process to ultimately decide to sign and play in France?
I knew that France was well known for having a good professional league so I knew I wanted to play there. In France, the players are generally treated well and are protected by the government, so it is a very safe place to play. Most players I talked to who had played in France had very good experiences.I had very good communication with the coaches at Poitiers from the beginning, and that was very important to me. They were able to provide me a lot of information about the team and answered all of the questions I had before I signed. I had a good feeling about the club and am excited to begin my pro career with them.
What have the coaches/staff said to you about what to work on?
In volleyball it always comes down to perfecting the basics. The elements of volleyball compound on each other- the quality of the pass determines what options the setter has and how she can run the offence, which in turn determines the effectiveness of the hitters. At the international level there is almost no room for error- you`re expected to make a perfect pass, or set, or hit, every time you touch the ball. So for me I am always working on becoming more consistent and more disciplined in everything I do as an athlete, both on and off the court.
As well, internationally players tend to jump much higher than they do in the CIS so I have been preparing myself for that. This summer I am training as a high jumper and really trying to understand the discipline and training to become a better jumper.
How has your family/friends reacted to your signing pro and moving to France?
They are very excited for me and have been very supportive. I think this is probably the most exciting thing I've done.
How did your time at Queen's help to get you to this point in your career?I think my experience playing for Queen's was overall a positive step in helping my volleyball career. Playing in the CIS is a great experience for any volleyball player and I think the OUA especially has become one of the more competitive divisions to play CIS volleyball. There's no question that both the men's and women's teams at Queen's have started making their mark in the CIS.
I am very grateful for the support from Queen's Athletics and the Queen's community. Most people don't understand them when I tell them how much school spirit and community Queen's has and how much it means as an athlete. When I was wearing the Queen's jersey I felt like I had the whole school behind me. I am now part of the Calgary Alumni Branch I have some incredible support there. That's something that is unique to Queen's and it's pretty special to be part of that.
Are there any people you'd like to give a shout out to that have really helped to get you to this point?
I could write you a very long a list of all the people who helped me get to this point! It has definitely been a team effort figuring out how to get into a professional sports league in Europe. When I first started looking into finding a professional contract, I really had no idea what I was doing. I had a lot of help and support from both Brenda and Joely, and a few other coaches in Ontario who sent along edited matches for me to help me put together video for an agent. I was fortunate to be able to talk to many Canadian players who had played overseas already who were able to give me insight into their experiences and things I should watch out for. And of course my parents and my teammates were behind me the whole way.