Joelle Laforce has always dreamed of playing volleyball at the collegiate level.
Now, thanks to a four-year scholarship from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill., she will be doing just that.
“It feels really cool because it has always been my dream to go to school in the United States and play volleyball and do what I love to do,” Laforce said Friday morning at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School where she signed the four-year contract with the American university.
The Grade 12 student started playing volleyball with the Rebels Volleyball Club in Calgary in Grade 7. She began playing for the Lindsay Thurber team two years ago.
Laforce, 17, explained that her club goes to volleyball camps in Las Vegas every year, which is where the university spotted her. She is the ‘number one draft pick’ for the university’s NCAA Division 1 next year.
While she plays middle blocker for Lindsay Thurber and right side and middle blocker for the Rebels club, she will be playing outside and right side blocker for the Eastern Illinois University Panthers next year.
“I bring a positive attitude and energy,” she said. “I try not to let anyone get down on themselves, so just trying to keep the energy up and have a positive attitude.”
Laforce said she will be studying dietetics in the university’s four-year program with the hopes of becoming a dietician one day.
“We’re really excited,” said her mother, Melissa Laforce. “She’s going to a really good coach and a really good school. It is a big school that prides itself on the sciences, so they have a lot of really great programs.”
Lindsay Thurber Senior Women’s Volleyball Coach Kirsten DeZutter called Laforce an exciting player to watch.
“She’s a phenomenal teammate,” she said. “She is super kind and super encouraging, and works super hard in practice. She always looks to improve. She supports her teammates really well and is such a positive player and positive influence on the court. She is a total pleasure to coach.”
Several women volleyball players from Lindsay Thurber High School have gone on to play at the collegiate level both in Canada and the United States, DeZutter said.
One graduate, Julie Young, played for the University of Calgary and went on to play volleyball for Team Canada in 2009.
Jaimie Thibeault played for the University of Montana and was part of the Canadian national team at the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Italy and the 2015 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix.