Erik Siksna named U SPORTS Rookie of the Year

National honour caps off wunderkind’s dream first year

Siksna (centre) exploded onto the scene in his first year.
Supplied by Erik Siksna

Erik Siksna has been playing volleyball since he was six years old, but it only took one year for the outside hitter to establish himself as a star at Queen’s.

After playing a big role in the Gaels’ second consecutive OUA Championship, Siksna was awarded a slew of awards. He was named OUA East Rookie of the Year and a second team all-star, before being awarded U SPORTS Rookie of the Year as well.

With the graduation of All-Canadian Zac Hutcheson, Siksna is his natural successor to lead the high-octane Queen’s team alongside Adam Boljkovac.

In his first year in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) volleyball, Siksna’s skills transferred well from his prior Ontario Volleyball Association (OVA) career.

Siksna (Comm ’23) excelled in the OVA. He was awarded the Ken Davies Memorial Award last year, which acknowledges a determined athlete with leadership and sportsmanship qualities. Ken Davies was a true athlete, skilled in many sports, and Siksna is much the same.

Before choosing volleyball as his sport of choice, Siksna played hockey, too. But when it came time to make the choice between the two, he felt compelled to choose volleyball because he saw a future for himself in the sport. He was right.

Now finishing his first year at Queen’s, Siksna reminisced about getting scouted back in grade 11. When he chose Queen’s, he said it “just came down to academics.”

This sentiment reflects Siksna’s attitude and outlook on life as a student-athlete. Though it’s stressful and demanding to juggle between volleyball and his studies, he’s managed to find a balance that allows him to succeed at both.

Part of what helps him is remembering to stay excited and not give in to the stress.

“You’ve got to take those nerves and turn it into excitement. I got better with that over the year.”

The toughest part for Siksna was learning how to adjust to life on his own, managing the conundrum of balancing university classes and a new team at the same time.

“Living on [my] own, having to balance everything between eating, staying healthy, and obviously academics and athletics, just managing a schedule, planning out when you’re going to do what. But once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty manageable, I’d say,” Siksna said.

He managed to figure everything out and come out on top, and his hard work has paid off in spades.

Siksna always keeps thoughts of his own success in the back of his mind. He said throughout the year, his focus was strictly on the success of the team. But when he won individually, Siksna said his teammates were happy for him.

“[They were] really supportive, really proud of me, and that’s something [that was] common throughout the whole year,” Siksna said. “Everyone was really proud of each other and supporting each other and I think that really contributed to the team’s success.”

The best part of the year for Siksna was winning the OUA Championship.

“I think that was a point of reflection for the whole year. [We had a] little bit of a slow start to the season, but throughout the year we put in a lot of work and I think at that point you have to look back and realize how far we came and it was probably one of the happiest moments of the year.”

With his first year at its close, Siksna got more than he could have asked for. He came into this year excited, but keeping his aspirations in check. 

“I didn’t have high expectations for myself, I just wanted to learn and get better, and this has been a really great development opportunity for myself long-term.”

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