While some incoming sophomore students have yet to make their mark on the university, this certainly isn’t true of Danielle Blumentrath and Caroline Livingston.
The pair were integral parts of the women’s volleyball season, ultimately both being named to the OUA East All-Rookie team. Though she’s satisfied with her performance this past season, Blumentrath said she was completely surprised when she heard she’d been selected for the All-Rookie team.
“I didn’t even know what it was when I got the email,” the setter said. “I had no idea [the All-Rookie team] even existed.”
Blumentrath came into the program as a walk-on. The team had already been training for a week before open tryouts, and seemed to have already selected their roster. When they held tryouts, Blumentrath was the only successful one to join the team.
“Everyone was very welcoming right away,” she said. “Tryouts were a little intimidating … but the girls and [head coach Michael Ling] made it an easy transition.”
Blumentrath is currently focused on the summer beach volleyball season. She said the longer offseason is strange, as high school volleyball schedules typically go late into May, while this year’s season ended in February with a first-round playoff loss to the Toronto Varsity Blues.
Outside hitter Livingston’s path to joining the Gaels was a bit more traditional than Blumentrath’s, as she committed to the program without having to worry about making the lineup as a walk-on.
Livingston and Blumentrath both saw a slow but steady increase in playing time throughout the season, where they ultimately became two of the most essential pieces of the Queen’s lineup.
Having gone through a year in the program already, Livingston believes her and Blumentrath’s newfound experience could be helpful to other first-year players coming to the Gaels.
“We’d just tell them to come in with an open mind,” she said. “It can be a scary transition from high school to university and even though people tell you about it, you can’t really experience it until you’re here.” Now fully part of the Queen’s Gaels program, they both credit Colin McAuslan, the strength and conditioning coach, with assisting in developing their workout regime.
“Last year my sister introduced me to the squat rack and I thought that was a big deal,” Livingston said, “but this year it’s been totally different with a completely customized offseason training plan.”
Unlike Blumentrath, Livingston is taking the summer off from competitive volleyball. “I didn’t feel like there was one team at my proper level that I’d fit in with this summer,” she said.
She instead wants to focus on developing her conditioning skills, while playing volleyball at open gym sessions.
Looking ahead to next year, both rookies seek to move into larger roles. Losing fifth-year middle Katie Hagarty is a blow to the program, but the large core of the volleyball team expects to be back.
No recruits or major roster changes have been publicly announced, but both players know that should a new athlete join their team, they’ll be first in line to assist with that transition.
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