DIGBY, N.S. – When injury forced her away from the court, Jasmine Deveau thought her days of volleyball were over.
But now she’s back stronger than ever, this time as a coach.
The Digby area now has nine more certified volleyball officials thanks to a Communities, Culture and Heritage grant received by the Digby Area Volleyball Club that helped offset the cost of certification.
Sport Nova Scotia also provided funding to the local club last year to aid in the certification of coaches. Volleyball club president Sharyn Hiscock says the funding was really appreciated.
“This funding has been a huge help to the development of volleyball in the area on the coaches, officials, and athlete level,” Hiscock says. “This certification will allow us to run more economic tournaments as we won’t need to bring in as many officials from outside areas. We cannot thank them enough.”
One of those newly minted coaches is 18-year-old Jasmine Deveau.
Deveau began playing volleyball when she was 13. She’d mostly been a soccer player before that, but was soon enthralled by the net game, although she was forced to quit playing volleyball two years ago after suffering multiple concussions.
“I had five concussions in three years and the last one was potentially fatal,” Deveau says. “I lost feeling in my body, couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk.”
After receiving a kick to the head while playing soccer, bumping her head playing football at school, dropping a volleyball net pole on her head and then being hit in the face playing volleyball, her volleyball days were done.
Or so it seemed at the time.
BUMPED FROM THE COURT
Her last injury, the one that almost took her life, left her unconscious and temporarily paralyzed. She’s now fully recovered, upbeat and confident, but two years ago she was in a very different place.
“I was a very dedicated athlete before my injuries. I was so competitive. Anything I played, it was do or die, so for my doctor to tell me I couldn’t play sports anymore and that the most I could do was go for a light jog – it was really heartbreaking for me,” Deveau says. “It made me lose all of my motivation.”
Deveau, at 16 years old, became depressed and began suffering from severe anxiety. A former honour student, she struggled with achieving 60s in school.
“I felt helpless,” she says.
However, Deveau’s younger sister started playing volleyball and Hiscock suggested Deveau get involved as a coach. This was a turning point in her recovery.
“Coaching is what made me fall in love with the game even more because I now coach my little sister on the U13 team,” she says. “Ever since I started coaching her, that hole that was in my heart was kind of filled. My passion is 100 per cent for volleyball now.”
With her newfound role in sports, Deveau’s confidence has returned and her grades have improved again – she says she now never has a mark below 90 per cent.
“Coaching has made me a more active member of the community. I coach volleyball and soccer now, and I love being a role model for these girls,” Deveau says. “I also know the importance of doing good in school – that’s a rule we have with the club – you have to do good in school in order to play. So for me to be a positive change and positive role model for these girls it’s just the best feeling in the world.”
After two years of rest, her injuries are recovered and her doctor says she could play again. Deveau considered it and might have been back on the court, but there weren’t enough U18 girls in the club, so she stuck with coaching.
A BIGGER LOVE
“My love for the game has grown into something more than it ever was before,” Deveau says. “I don’t think people realize how important volleyball is to me ‘cause not everybody knows the story. Volleyball is close to my heart because of what it’s done for me in the last couple of years.”
She says she now understands through her own injuries that healing time is essential and that this has helped her be a better coach to others.
“I work my girls really hard and I take the game really seriously but I always tell them, ‘If you’re injured do not push yourself, you need to heal,’” Deveau says. “That’s one thing that sticks close with me, because I’ve been hurt before and I’d still say ‘I’m okay to play’ and I know now that’s just not the case – you need to take care of yourself.”
Deveau loves what’s she is doing so much she’s planning to take a gap year between high school and university to focus on coaching. While she says her future is mostly likely in environmental geography, coaching has quickly become a passion for the young woman, who leads the U15 team filled with girls not that much younger than herself.
Deveau will be head coach of her teams when the club heads to provincials in April and she continues to take advanced-level coaching training each year.
“Being a professional coach – that would be a dream come true,” Deveau says. “Coaching is something I’ve come to love in the past couple of years.”