Kelsey Tymkow has been a volleyball player for most of her life.
“I started when I was 12-years-old. It was just one of the sports that I actually liked because I hated contact sports,” said the 21-year-old Edmonton native, who is now in her second year playing for the Red Deer College Queens volleyball team.
In her two years with the Queens, Tymkow has worked her way up from a first sub player to a leadership role on the team. She is one of RDC’s captains and is now a starter on the team.
“I love it. It’s honestly been one of the best experiences of my whole volleyball career,” she said of her time playing at RDC, during which she has helped the team win an ACAC championship and a national title.
She also recorded 211 kills in 86 games last season.
Tymkow started her competitive volleyball career playing with the Northern Alberta Volleyball Club in Edmonton. She played there until her final year of high school, when she moved onto join the Pandas Volleyball Club.
“I just grew up doing that,” she said.
After graduating high school, Tymkow enrolled at NAIT in an effort to get a business diploma in accounting.
“One of my coaches that coached me (in my club years) ended up getting the head coaching job my first year at NAIT and he phoned me and said, ‘Hey I want you to come play’,” she said. That coach was Lorne Sawula, who had coached Tymkow at Aspire Volleyball, an organization that offers private volleyball lessons to players in Edmonton.
She played for the Ooks for two seasons before she enrolled at RDC at the beginning of last year.
The Kinesiology major said it’s been fun to play against her former team on the court.
“It’s competitive because you definitely want to win. Last year, in the quarterfinals of provincials, we played them and there was definitely some external motivators out there,” she said.
So far this season, Tymkow has helped the Queens 13-7 record, contributing 130 kills in 56 games playing on the left side.
“It started a little rough at the start but I think we’re finally coming together as a team. We’re learning the way that each of us plays and we’re learning each other and the system, so it’s good,” she said, adding she has taken on more of a leadership role this season compared to last.
But, like all good stories, Tymkow’s time as a Queen is drawing to a close. She’ll be graduating from RDC at the end of the school year with plans to continue her education at the University of Alberta.
“I could have had one (year left) but Talbot (Walton) and I have talked about it and I think it’s just better for me, educational-wise, to move on to the U of A, so this year I’ll be graduating,” she said, adding she has mixed emotions about leaving the Queens and the ACAC.
“I’m excited and nervous – excited because I get to go back home but a little sad because I don’t get to finish out my five years. I love Talbot and all the girls, so it would have been nice to stay, but there’s nothing more that I can take.”
She also noted she doesn’t think she’ll be pursing volleyball at the university level.
“I don’t think so, I’ll just probably be pursuing educational goals,” she said when asked if she would be trying out for the U of A Golden Bears in the fall.
It’s not all sad, though. Later this month, Red Deer College will be hosting the 2016 ACAC Women’s Volleyball Championship, so Tymkow will have the opportunity to go out with a bang.
“The last hurrah,” she laughed.
When asked whether the knowledge this would be her last year affected her play, Tymkow said it’s allowed her to leave it all on the court.
“I think it’s allowed me to play more free. I think I’ve played with the same intensity the whole way through because you always want to do well, regardless of whether you’re coming back or not. You want to leave whatever you have on the court at that time. But it’s definitely allowed me to play more free and just leave everything out there and have a reason to,” she said, adding her time in a Queens’ uniform has allowed her to grow both as a player and a person.
“I definitely think I’ve grown as a person, because living at home to moving away from home is a big transition. Overall, going from a first year to having a leadership role is very nice too because it forces you to lead by example and not just by what you’re saying.”
Tymkow will take to the court at the RDC gym for her last regular season home game as a Queen this Friday when the Queens host the SAIT Trojans. Game time is at 6 p.m.