Featured Challenger Series Competitor: Stephanie Neville

3 more weeks!! We seriously can't contain our excitement as the rosters are flooding in for our first Challenger Series tournament on January 7th. We have some pretty STELLAR athletes competing and we're so excited to announce our first competitor on the Elite Women's side: Stephanie Neville!

Stephanie has been a strong player from a young age. She competed with both our Canadian Youth and Junior National team programs before accepting a Scholarship to Florida State. Her passion and drive to win, helped lead the Florida State Seminoles to their first ever Elite 8 appearance in the NCAA Championships in 2009. Following her University career, Stephanie accepted a Professional contract in Thessaloniki, Greece where she competed for the 2014-2015 season. With a desire to move forward with her career back in Canada, Stephanie returned after her season in Greece, but her love of the game and passion to continue competing has lead her to compete throughout Canada and the States in different tournament series with both Beach and Indoor.

We checked in with Stephanie to see what motivates and inspires her as an athlete and where you might be able to catch her playing this next year. Don't miss her appearance at the ONE Volleyball Challenger Series No. 1, January 7th at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.


Club: Waterloo Tigers (Waterloo, ON)
University: Florida State Seminoles (Tallahassee, Florida) – Best finish, Elite 8 (2009)
Professional Team: Makedones Aksiou, Greek A1 League (Thessaloniki, Greece)
Team Canada Volleyball Youth & Junior National Team Member (2004, 2005, 2006)


Why do you play volleyball? What motivates and inspires you?

I play volleyball because I’m in love with the game, and I feel at home on the court. I feel so alive when I’m competing and I love constantly challenging myself to become better, faster and smarter on the court. Seeing progress in my game excites me. I love the strategy involved in volleyball – I have always found it to be such a fascinating game. I started playing volleyball in Grade 7, after my elementary school gym teacher recommended that I give it a try, and I haven’t looked back since. Volleyball has been such a huge part of my life, and I’ve seen myself grow in so many different ways because of the life experiences and adventures that have come my way through volleyball. In terms of what motivates me on the court – I have always been driven by the intense desire to win, no matter who’s on the other side of the net. The passionate volleyball fans have always been extremely inspiring and motivating to me as well– both at Florida State and in Greece. Fans would lineup to get autographs after our games at Florida State, and I always felt like I had that much more drive and energy during the games because the fans cared so much. We not only wanted to win for ourselves, but also for the dedicated fans that came out to every match and followed our season year after year. And this includes my number one fans - my parents and extended family– who watched every game on the internet from Canada! I always knew they were watching – and that inspired me to fight even harder during every match I played.

Where do you currently play in North America?

Now that I am back in Canada, I typically play beach volleyball in the summers and indoor volleyball in the winters. I started getting into beach volleyball a lot more after I graduated from Florida State, and I find it a tossup now, in terms of which sport I love more – beach or indoor.


Stephanie currently competes for PRIME Women's Volleyball team and on the beach with various partners.

Where can you spot her playing this season?

Indoor:

  • ONE Volleyball's first Challenger Series- January 7th at TPASC
  • Doble Classic in Michigan
    • 2016 - 3rd place finish with PRIME
  • Lloy Ball Classic in Fort Wayne, Indiana
    • 2016 - 8th place finish with PRIME
  • Outtahand tournaments in the GTA (both Reverse 6’s and Women’s)
  • (TBD) Pre-Doble Tune Up tournament - January at the University of Michigan Dearborn

Beach:

  • AVP Next Bud Light Pro Tour Series at Sharkey’s - Liverpool, New York
    • 2016 finished 1st and 2nd for overall points with Octavia Wong
    • Previously, finished 1st and 2nd for overall points with Petra Duchoslavova
  • Co-Ed Beach tournaments at Sharkey's
    • 1st place finishes with Jasmin Cull
  • Various OVA tournaments and Big Dig Tournament at North Avenue Beach in Chicago
    • 3rd place finish at 2013 Big Dig with Christine Lamey
  • Hamilton Sandbox Co-ed and Women's beach tournaments
    • 2016 End of Summer Co-Ed 2’s – Finished 1st with partner Jasmin Cull

What motivates you to continue playing and how did you get involved with the tournaments and series you currently play in?

'In terms of what motivates me to still play in Canadian & American beach and indoor tournaments – quite simply, it is the love of the game that is still very much alive & well within me. Volleyball is one of the great loves of my life, and I will continue to play in tournaments for as long as my body will let me! I also really enjoy the social element, and I now have a great network of volleyball friends in the GTA, whom I enjoy seeing on a regular basis at all of these tournaments.'

'I became involved with all of these tournaments after I stopped playing at Florida State & professionally and moved back to Canada. I was invited to play in an Outtahand Reverse 6’s tournament, and then I started to hear about these other great tournaments through the volleyball grapevine.'

Do you currently train (in the gym, on the court)?

'I still do some weight lifting in the gym, as well as high intensity interval training. But my weight training regimen is not nearly as strict as it was while I was training at Florida State & in Greece. My on-court training now-a-days is typically just weekend tournament play, with a few exhibition matches scheduled here and there between PRIME and Ontario University teams (Ryerson, Western etc). PRIME also plans to practice at least once a week together during the month before the Doble Classic tournament, in order to prepare for the high calibre U.S. teams that we always see at this tournament.'