Print Edition: April 11, 2012
The UFV women’s volleyball team placed third in the nation this year in the CCAA, led by the phenomenal play of fourth-year middle Kayla Bruce. While many (including The Cascade) were focusing on the men’s basketball team’s meteoric run in the CIS, Bruce was quietly wrapping up a season which would win her the following awards: CCAA All-Canadian, PACWEST Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year, PACWEST Provincial Championship All-Star, a place on the CCAA National Championship All-Star Team, and finally, PACWEST Female Athlete of the Year.
The Cascade sat down with Bruce to learn a little about the person behind all this acclamation. Here’s the result:
First of all, tell me a bit about your history. Where are you from and where did you play before UFV?
I am from Surrey, BC, actually and I spent my first two years at Briercrest Bible College in Saskatchewan. It was very cold but I really, really enjoyed my time there. I love that school. I have a lot of good things to say about it but vocationally it wasn’t taking me where I wanted to be … so I emailed Dennis and I decided to come to UFV … Also, I used to play club [volleyball] for Focus and actually for Greg Russell who’s the coach of the men’s volleyball team.
How did you start playing volleyball? Why volleyball?
It’s kind of a funny story, cause I played high-school volleyball in Grade 8 and I had a friend on the team who invited me to go to a tryout with her for a volleyball club. It turned out that I made the A team and she made the B team so … I felt kind of bad. But that’s how I started and I’ve just had such passion for it ever since. I’m the oldest of four and I’m the first one to play volleyball and now my whole family is a volleyball family.
Do you play as a family sometimes?
Sometimes. We get really competitive. We go to Osoyoos sometimes [to play] and my brother gets mad when the non-experienced players come in.
What are the usual teams in your family?
Well I get stuck with my little brother because I’m the oldest. And then it’s the two in-between, my brother and my sister. And then we put my dad on one side because he’s not very good (laughs). He likes to think he’s good.
Does it affect the off-court relationships as well? Is it a big thing to beat the other side of the family?
No, it’s all fun and games (laughs).
So do you play any other sports?
I played quite a few in high school, but it got to be too much. I think when you get to grade 11 or 12 you have to narrow it down. I did track and field, basketball … and I actually used to synchronize skate.
Really? What is synchronized skating?
It’s like synchronized swimming but on ice.
I didn’t even know and I got a BBM from one of my friends who I work with. She was like “Oh my gosh Kayla congratulations!” And I thought maybe she was talking about something else … so I went on to Facebook later and saw someone had shared the PACWEST release.
So Facebook told you is what you’re saying?
And then my coach phoned me the next day, I think he thought he would be the first one. He was like “Kayla guess what!” and I was like “I know!” But I’m really excited; I’ve never gotten anything like that before. I mean, anyone could have gotten it.
Not anybody, you have to be female.
Well obviously, but there are a lot of talented players in the PACWEST and I think I am just very fortunate. And I can’t take all the credit for myself; I have a few God-given talents. It is true, I do give the glory back to God because he’s the one who blessed me with the ability to play volleyball, and I think that’s why I succeed.
I was doing some research on this award and I found that it’s actually given to the top player in one of five sports. So you were the best female player in golf, volleyball, soccer, basketball and badminton. Are you going to rub that in a bit, maybe drop it in conversation when you meet badminton players?
No, I don’t even know any badminton players.
What’s been your favourite memory this year, best game, best bus ride, best prank?
Our trip to San Diego over Christmas was SO much fun. It was really last minute, we got asked to go, I think it was maybe a week or two before we were supposed to leave … we spent 10 days together in a house with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and only one functioning shower … we made all our meals together and it was so much fun. I think by the end of it we were a little tense, but I just love my teammates and I think that’s one reason we did so well this year.
Wait, 10 of you and one shower?
We had girls running back yelling “shotgun for shower!” Obviously the seniors got to go first and then it went down from there.
And you of course said “Female Athlete of the Year, so it’s my shower?”
(laughs) Sometimes we were generous and reversed the order so the same people weren’t always going last.
Originally in our bronze medal game at nationals we had lost to that team [we were playing] in the first round and we just always want each other [on our team] to succeed. We care about one another at a personal level too, so like if someone is having a rough game it hurts us too and we just want them to do really well.
Moving on to the topic of the late Athletics & Wellness Referendum, obviously your team is one of the teams on the bubble. Speaking to the student body what would you have to say about this topic?
Well I was reading Scott Bishop’s article on Facebook* and I really agree with what he had to say. I mean our school is striving to be like SFU and UBC and I don’t think we can do that unless we have this referendum put in for Athletics. We’re never going to be up there with those teams, or be like those schools if our Athletics is totally separate … I think going to college and university should be the whole package. You cheer on your sports teams, you do the extracurricular activities, intramurals and so on and you work out in your school facility. Right now you have to pay to work out here. I know you get your U-Pass, but not everyone has the ability to get to the ARC.
Do you think that if it doesn’t pass the women’s volleyball team will be cut?
Yeah … and we’re not just talking about women’s volleyball, we’re talking about golf, women’s volleyball, men’s volleyball, and rowing, because we’re all on the fence … I think that one major way that schools find students is through recruiting for athletics, and we’re going to lose those students if we don’t have these programs.
*Bishop’s article can be found in the comments section of The Cascade‘s coverage of the athletics referendum outcome.