Arielle Palermo, ArtSci ’23, and Hannah Duchesneau, ArtSci ’24, two outside hitters from Queen’s women’s volleyball, have been selected for the Women’s NextGen Program with Volleyball Canada.
The NextGen Program, hosted at the National Training Center in Richmond B.C, engages nineteen selected athletes in a high-performance training environment with a focus on technical and tactical development. It serves as an entry point for players aspiring to play for Canada and acts as a gateway for the Senior National team.
In an interview with The Journal, Palermo said she is honoured to be selected for the roster and to be able to represent Canada in this capacity.
“I’m very excited for this new experience being able to meet new people and be training with the top athletes across the country as well as the coaching staff that is very talented out here as well,” she said.
Duchesneau said it “feels amazing” to be selected and she is excited to get back onto the court with a consistent schedule for both training and lifting.
“It’s going to be so much fun. Lots of hard work but it’ll be so much fun,” she said with a laugh.
The two Gaels began the 10-week program on May 24. They describe a typical day beginning with an 8 a.m. training session, a 2 to 3-hour break around midday, and either a workout or practice to round it off. Normally, the NextGen team would see some form of international games. These had to be wound down due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Palermo attributes her preparedness for this program to her talented coaches and teammates who make up the competitive atmosphere at Queen’s.
“My team at Queen’s throughout every year I’ve been there has always been very high-level and had a very high-level training environment which has always challenged me and pushed me in good ways,” she said.
Palermo said the lost 2020-21 season due to the pandemic was “not ideal for myself and I’m sure a lot of other athletes,” reflecting on the difficulty associated with not having a set training program.
Focusing on what she could control, which included at-home workouts and recovering from ongoing over-usage injuries, she said that the time-off has only fueled her excitement.
“[It] has helped me prepare to be in the spot I am right now with training this summer and I’m very excited to be able to get out there again,” she said.
Being named to the NextGen Program is a notable step for the two talented players, whose eyes are set on achieving success at the national level and with the Queen’s team.
Palermo, who had a stellar 2019-20 season where she was named to the OUA East All-Star list, hopes to play pro volleyball overseas after finishing her five years at Queen’s. Her biggest goal is to work her way up to the Senior National Team and compete at the Olympic Games.
Duchesneau, a beach and indoor player, was captain of the Youth National Team and competed at the 2019 U18 World Championships. Her long-term goal is to play on the National Senior A team.
“For more short-term goals playing pro overseas is a huge one. Also winning an OUA championship. That’s for sure a huge goal at Queen’s with the women’s volleyball team,” she said.
Having joined Queen’s in 2020, Duchesneau has yet to play a full season as a Gael. She’s looking forward to gaining experience in the NextGen program to bring to Queen’s for next season.
“What I hope to bring back to Queen’s is the intensity and pursuit that I will gain from this program to enhance both the volleyball and social environments on the team,” she said.
Palermo has a similar mindset.
“I’m very excited for myself and Hannah to come back to Queen’s and contribute to the high-performance level that’s in the gym and bring that high-level to our teammates so that we can dominate next season.”
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