Nancy Le

VIDEO AND STORY: Passing on that volleyball feeling

Any sports coach will tell you that they’re always more than just a coach. The same is true for Nancy Le




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Any sports coach will tell you that they’re always more than just a coach.

The same is true for Nancy Le, who is one of the coaches for the senior girls volleyball team at Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS).

“I care a lot about the teenagers and about the youth,” she said. “It makes me feel really rich even though I don’t make a penny from it.”

Le, who was born and raised in Prince Rupert, is in her third season as the girls’ coach and first at the senior level. She started with this group from Grade 9 and has followed them through the years.

“I think it keeps them out of trouble, it keeps them busy and kind of healthy and in shape, just to let them have fun and have that experience,” she said.

She was never supposed to end up as their volleyball coach. Le only went to one practice to help out after her cousin said she was trying out for the team. Three seasons later, she’s still here and she’s committed to these girls who she has helped improve from that first year.

They didn’t know much about volleyball at first. But each year, the team has improved — the girls have dominated the division this season.

The team is 12-1 so far and they went into this weekend’s zone championships as the favourite. The immediate goal for Le is to get the girls to provincials and bring home a banner —the first for girls volleyball in a long time.

Even though she is a coach now, she says she is still a volleyball player at heart. This comes from a woman who hated volleyball when she first started playing.

“My friend dragged me to tryouts in Grade 8 and I was really bad at it but my goal was to be better and then it just somehow became my favourite sport. I just love the hustling of the whole game and being on your toes,” she said.

Until that point, Le was an accomplished athlete in track and field, soccer, basketball and badminton. She was on several select teams in elementary school and received many athlete awards.

Then the challenge of volleyball came. Le wasn’t as skilled at first, because she couldn’t understand her power and strength with the ball. She didn’t have anyone to practice with then, so she spend a lot of time that first season using the gym wall as her trainer.

She spent countless hours learning how to set, bump and hit the ball against the wall. Eventually, she got better and worked her way up.

While her team was decent in high school and consistently made it to the zone finals, they never brought home a banner because injury would strike in the form of a concussion or a rolled ankle. Still, the memories stick with her.

“My highlights were travelling with the girls, just bonding and being a bunch of teenage girls. It really brings you closer as teammates and as friends because all of those girls turned out to be my best friends still today,” Le said.

The volleyball court became a place she could let go of her stresses and troubles. The sport turned into something she loved that never quite let her go.

“I’m passionate about the sport because it’s such a mental sport and so quick. You can use a lot of power and speed so you have to use your brain just to outplay the other team,” Le said.

Le is more than a volleyball coach. She also works as an administrative clerk at Northern Savings Credit Union and also runs a side business, West Coast Best Coast Apparel. The business sells T-shirts and tanks all designed by Le. She started the venture this summer.

She had recently returned from backpacking Thailand and realized she had spent hours chasing an acclaimed waterfall that wasn’t as spectacular as some she has seen around here.

“West Coast best coast, I understand that now. I want to share that love. Why has it taken my whole life to realize or agree with that saying,” she said.

She works out of her home and Cowpuccino’s sells her products. Sales are starting to pick up with Christmas around the corner, she said.

Between volleyball, her full-time job and her side business, she has little time for sleep. Even so, Le isn’t ready for the volleyball season to be over.

If the girls are successful in bringing home a banner, it would be the new highlight of her sporting career. Le doesn’t know if she will coach next season — she takes it year-by-year. Nothing would make her happier than to leave knowing she helped these girls that are near to her heart achieve something so special.

“I like giving them that feeling that I had when I was in high school. I wanted to give them that experience, a love for the sport, and just to let all your stress out and just focus on the ball. It’s some of these memories you don’t ever forget.”