School spirit powers Raider to do more

BALANCING ACT: Riverdale CI’s Kayla Van der Kolk says she gets more out of her education by being involved in various teams and clubs. Though volleyball is her favourite sport, she channels her artistic side singing for the choir.

Kayla Van der Kolk brings tenacity to the court

The spirit of Riverdale surges through Kayla Van der Kolk like a well-placed spike.

For the grade 11 student, getting involved in all things Raider is a prerequisite for making her time at school more enjoyable. School spirit is something she’s learned from her parents, Lance and Brenda.

“If you don’t get involved in different things in the school, you don’t get as much as you can out of the education system,” she says on a lazy Sunday afternoon. “I like to incorporate all the different areas around the school … because variety is the spice of life.”

The volleyballer is also preparing for a track season, and she’s in the choir club. In the fall, she played tennis and basketball.

“It’s mind-boggling how much Riverdale has to offer, with all the different things out there whether it’s clubs or teams, it’s just incredible,” she said.

For her volleyball coach Karen Gallagher, Van der Kolk’s school spirit is admirable.

“She was very committed, dedicated to the team,” Gallagher said. “Great attitude — very positive.”

Van Der Kolk’s tenacity is so prevalent she even sucks up any injury pain.

During her volleyball season she had her hyper-extended thumb wrapped at all five regular season matches. Earlier in the fall she broke her middle finger reaching for a rebound in basketball.

“Actually it was really funny because I didn’t want to stop,” she said. “It hurt like hell but I just thought, ‘You know what, it’s probably just sprained,’ and (the coach) just tied it up.

“Luckily it was on my left hand, so it wasn’t as bad as it would’ve been.”

It’s always a drag when an injury hits, Van der Kolk shared, but fortunately for her the recuperation time is short.

“I do so much during the year that when something gets tweaked I really don’t sit out and I push on through,” she said. “That might not be the best thing for my body ultimately but I don’t want to miss out of things.”

She credits Gallagher for giving the extra bump over the net.

“She gets us so mentally tough because she’s not one of those coaches that will yell at you, she’ll give you constructive criticism (and) get you really pumped to get back out there,” Van der Kolk said.

She’s had to sacrifice a few sports to focus more on her studies. One of the victims was archery, a sport she wants to revisit in grade 12.

“I’ve given time to focus on academics because I’ve been running around like a chicken with her head cut off so I’m kind of trying to focus a bit more on school but also keep my sports regiment,” she said.

With tennis, basketball, volleyball, choir and track on her schedule, Van der Kolk hasn’t given much thought to university.

“I can’t believe it’s coming so soon,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not going to think about that so much because I have no idea where I want to go in terms of career.”

Whatever her plans are, it’ll be jam-packed with arts and sports.

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