Carihi’s Rebecca Tazumi kind of doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
Sure, she’s only 16 and has been named one of B.C.’s best volleyball players. And sure, that’s after only having played for a few years. But still, she’s just a regular high school girl, focusing on graduating and making her way out into the world.
“It’s not that it doesn’t feel special, but it’s more that I love it than that I’m good at it,” she says. “I mean, I’ve very competitive and it takes a lot of work, but for me it’s more about the love of it than my desire to be good at it.”
But good at it she is, especially for someone who has only been playing a few years.
Tazumi moved to volleyball from gymnastics – a sport in which she also excelled – when she was in Grade 8 at L’École Phoenix Middle School, and immediately took to it.
“The reason I stopped gymnastics is because I stopped having fun,” she says. “The stress and the expectations were too much, and I didn’t want to let anybody down.”
Part of the stress of gymnastics, she says, was that every performance rests purely on the individual. You can never have a bad day in gymnastics, because there’s nobody else that can step up to help you out.
“In gymnastics, it’s all on you, whereas in volleyball it’s about the team coming together. I mean, someone can be really good, but if the team isn’t working well together, it’s not going to go well at all.”
Not that she wants to win all the time, necessarily.
For people who don’t have first-hand experience with competitive sport, it may sound strange to hear that Tazumi actually enjoys losing – as long as it was because they played a better team – because it makes her a better athlete in the long run.
“The better the people are you’re playing, the more fun it is,” she says. “Especially if you can make them really tight games – like, the ones that go to three sets and take forever – but even if we lose, we all walk away better and having had more fun. If you play teams that are worse than you and you win, who really cares, right? That’s no fun.”
And she’s been having her chance to play at that level. This summer she went through the selection process to be named to Team BC and was the first Campbell Riverite to receive that honour since Timberline’s Sarah Chase – who was recently named to Canada’s National Team.
It was a long process to get there, though.
“First I had to go to a tryout to get to the tryout,” she says with a laugh. “We had a tryout on Vancouver Island where about 60 girls went and tried out to see who would get to go tryout for Team BC.”
She made it through the whole process and got to go be a part of the excitement this summer in Kelowna at UBC Okanagan.
“I got to be there for a whole month, and it was awesome,” she says. “Both the boys program and the girls program was there, and also the 18Us were training there at the same time, so taking all that in and watching it all was a really great opportunity.”
As part of Team BC – well, one of two Team BCs – she then got to compete at the National Team Challenge Cup in Richmond, where the two B.C. teams came in second and third, behind one of the Team Ontario squads.
“We don’t have any more tournaments coming up, but we do have fall training, so it’ll be fun to see all those friends again.”
But right now she’s got to focus on getting back to school. While she’s hoping her volleyball will take her places in her education, she knows academics have got to be her first priority right now.
“For me, right now, I’ve got to focus on school. Once the club season starts back up, we’ll work on calling up scouts to come watch when we’re nearby and that kind of thing so that hopefully I can land a scholarship somewhere.”
And even if those offers start rolling in, she says, it’ll still be more about the education she’ll be receiving than the volleyball program she’ll be a part of.
“If there are two places who offer me a scholarship, and one is a better fit for volleyball but the other one is a better fit for school, I’ll definitely take that one,” she says. “Right now, I think I want to go into physiotherapy, but I could definitely change my mind. I’m pretty sure that I want to go into something in the medical field. I probably wouldn’t be a good doctor, though, because I’m not good with blood. I wanted to be a vet for a while, but I’m allergic to a lot of animals, so that probably wouldn’t be a good fit.”
But with her down-to-Earth atitude and competitive spirit, no matter what she takes on, she’s likely to succeed.