HUMBOLDT — For several reasons, Humboldt’s Katie MacLean’s academic and athletic journey is taking her east.
The daughter of Randy and Carolyn has committed to play volleyball and study at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. She said she always wanted to pursue her education and athletic career in eastern Canada. MacLean is excited for the challenges that lie ahead competing at the highest level of university volleyball in Canada.
“I am thrilled to pursue my athletic career at the U Sports level,” she said. “I am looking forward to the competitive environment with an expectation of success. I also look forward to meeting and working with my teammates who are among the best athletes in the country. I also am looking forward to high level coaching, competing in the AUS (Atlantic University Sport), and just becoming a better athlete. Overall, playing at the university level has always been a goal of mine and I am beyond excited to experience everything being a student-athlete has to offer.”
The Axewomen are pleased to add the athletic 5-foot-7 setter. On the Acadia athletic department’s website, head coach Michelle Wood commented:
“Katie plays with a high volleyball IQ. As a setter she sees the game very well, so right away she will be able to contribute from a tactical standpoint.
"Katie will be a tremendous ambassador for our university, coming in with high academic and athletic honours."
MacLean moved to Humboldt when she was 10. She was born in Sherbrooke and grew up in Cowansville. Many of MacLean’s family lives in Quebec or Nova Scotia. She spent many summers in both provinces. MacLean said she fell in love with the lifestyle of Nova Scotia. Her father’s mother played basketball at Acadia University. MacLean has various relatives who live in Halifax and her mother’s childhood best friend lives in Wolfville. This year her father took on a career opportunity in New Brunswick.
Not only does moving to Wolfville mean MacLean has family support nearby, but Acadia University also matches what she was looking for in a post-secondary institution – “a strong athletic program which valued academics highly. I also wanted to be part of a program with strong women in leadership roles as well as a team that was involved in the community. Attending a school where I could complete a full degree but also compete at a high level was important to me.”
“Acadia easily became the primary choice,” MacLean said. “From my very first Zoom meeting to visiting the campus, I knew I wanted to call Acadia University home. Various schools did express interest. I had other opportunities in the AUS and ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference). However, from very early on I knew Acadia was my primary choice.”
Going to a university that would challenge her academically was important to MacLean. She has been accepted to pursue a Bachelor of Science, majoring in chemistry. MacLean hopes to complete a double major in chemistry and biology.
“Throughout high school, I rapidly discovered my passion for math and sciences,” she said. “Therefore, I plan on attending medical school after my time at Acadia University. I intend on becoming a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon to work closely with athletes. I have had such a positive and impactful experience with sports which has influenced my desire to be able to work closely with athletes even if I am no longer competing.”
MacLean praised her parents for being extremely supportive throughout her athletic career.
“Without them, I truly believe I would not be where I am today,” she said.
The MacLeans put on many miles for her to play at the highest levels possible. She competed for the Sask Stealth, a high-performance volleyball club team based out of Regina.
“In Grades 11 and 12, I drove to Saskatoon twice per week and Regina once per week for club volleyball training. In the fall and spring, I drove to Regina twice per week for the Volleyball Canada Regional Excellence Program. I also have competed on the provincial team for Sask Volleyball from 16U-18U and the Basketball Sask provincial team in 17U, which consumed most of mine and their summers. …
“Without my parents, none of these opportunities would have been possible. They have been extremely financially and emotionally supportive throughout this entire journey. Whether it was making sure I had a full tank of gas for my trips to Saskatoon, having supper ready when I got home, driving me to out of province tournaments, or giving up every weekend from December to May, my parents have been there for me. I am extremely grateful.”
MacLean played a wide variety of sports at HCI. In addition to volleyball and basketball, these included badminton, flag football, cross country, and track and field.
“My favorite thing about my time playing sports at HCI was developing valuable friendships and leadership skills,” MacLean said. “I always looked forward to having tournaments every weekend throughout both basketball and volleyball season because I love competing. My favorite memory is winning bronze at SHSAA volleyball 4A Provincials this past year. I will always be grateful for my time wearing a Mohawks jersey.”
HCI head coach Jarrod Regush pointed to three areas where MacLean excelled as a setter.
“The setting fundamentals is one. Katie understood that before you sprint, you must learn how to walk. She demonstrated consistency at all times being able to perfect even the simplest of tasks. Having done this, she was able to expand her skill set drastically. She was able to add aspects to her game that were well beyond high school athletics levels.
“Decision making is next. Katie studies the game of volleyball. If there is a game on, Katie is likely watching. This transitioned directly to her on-court performance. She is able to decide and make changes to plays on the fly based on how the game develops.
“Lastly her competitiveness allows her to differentiate herself from others. Whether we are up by 10, or down by 10, Katie treats every point like the game is on the line. Leaving everything on the court every time she steps on it, it is no surprise how much she contributed to the success of our team.”
Regush also lauded MacLean’s work ethic. He said she spent countless hours in the gym outside of regular team practices. Regush said even in the offseason, “we were often in the gym training and developing new skills to take her to the next level. With her commitment to Acadia University, she is really starting to see the results of all of her hard work pay off.”