Jun the 17 Corporate
Volleyball Voices: Holly Rae Yuzicapi
Volleyball Canada is proud to introduce the Volleyball Voices series, a look into the people that make up the sport that we love, their stories, and how volleyball has touched their lives.
The first editions of this series feature Indigenous athletes and coaches from across Canada. Out of respect to the interviewees and their experiences, Volleyball Canada reached out to Holly Rae Yuzicapi from the Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation in Southern Saskatchewan to conduct these interviews. Holly herself has a deep connection with volleyball, making her the perfect starting point for this series.
In her words:
Let me tell you what volleyball has done for me. When I was a kid, everyone told me that I was tall and that I should play volleyball. I never saw a volleyball game in my life! My first introduction to the sport was playing in the yard with my relatives. They showed me how to hold my hands together. We tried to pass a ball over a telephone line. I was going to school in my community at the time and we didn't have a gym. My school also only went up to grade 6, so for grade 7 you were either bussed to town for school or you went to residential school. I went to residential school. This is where I fell in love with the game. It gave me a sense of belonging and a reason to love school. I realized I liked the competitiveness of the sport and the travelling to play against other teams. I also felt very cool with my team attire.
The more I played, the more I wanted to participate in any opportunity there was where I could be part of a team and play this game I fell in love with. In Saskatchewan, there are many Indigenous opportunities to play sports with the now-called Tony Cote Winter Games and Summer Games where you represent your Tribal Council and the North American Indigenous Games where you play for your province or state. Right from being Bantam age to a Senior, my province has many Indigenous opportunities that nurture and encourage people to participate in sport. I have taken advantage of these opportunities my whole life and still continue to play for and in my community.
Volleyball has been a vessel for me to learn, grow, and contribute to society. It has also taken me all over the world! I once played an outdoor tournament under the Eiffel tower! I got to play games outside of castles! I was able to visit many other Indigenous communities where this sport has become an integral community sport.
There is nothing better than witnessing people finding a love for sport and then using that sport to take you and your people to wonderful places. Volleyball has allowed me to pursue education and it has brought lifelong friends into my life. I will always be thankful that I learned how to play volleyball.
I feel very blessed and complete to be able to give back to the sport that has done so much for me. I am so proud of Volleyball Canada (MY SPORT) and the journey they have embarked on to help everyone involved with volleyball to become more aware of the impacts of Canada's history on its Indigenous athletes as well as welcoming the spirit of Reconciliation into the organization. It is a true testament to creating welcoming and safe spaces for all. Thank you Volleyball Canada for the opportunity to bring you stories from Indigenous athletes. Thank you for the designated time, space and continued foundational support for Reconciliation.
Watch for Holly's "Volleyball Voices" interviews in the coming weeks.
Volleyball has been a vessel for me to learn, grow, and contribute to society.