In the world of varsity sports, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. There is enough at stake for many of the post-secondary teams, in Sudbury and elsewhere, that the pursuit of athletic excellence can become all-encompassing.
Cambrian women’s volleyball middle Kailey Bastien is thankful for the balance she has struck.
In her fifth and final year, both with the Golden Shield, but also as a student in the demanding Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the 22 year old graduate of Confederation Secondary sees a positive correlation between the two pursuits that dominate her daily schedule.
“To be a varsity athlete, you really have to be dedicated and committed; you have to have the drive to really do your job to the best of your abilities,” said Bastien. “In nursing, I always strive to treat the patient the best that I can, to take care of them to the best of my abilities.”
“Varsity volleyball has been really good for teaching me time management, organization and prioritizing. Basically, I go to school, I do whatever I need to do for school, and then I go to practice – and that’s the routine.”
If the youngest of two girls in the family (older sister Kelsey also played at Confederation and has coached within the ranks of the Northern Chill Volleyball Club), comes across as ultra focused, it’s genuine. She pulls no punches about her approach on the court, one that she first developed as an eight year veteran of the Sudbury Lady Wolves competitive hockey program.
“I’ve always been an all or nothing athlete,” said Bastien. “You either commit 100 percent, and take it as hard and as far as you can, or you don’t do it at all. I remember being at Valley View (Elementary School) and thinking to myself that I was going to be a varsity athlete. I really didn’t know in what sport, but I was going to do it.”
“I can be a very competitive person when it comes to sports.” And therein lies the flip-side of this story, the balance that Bastien displays in terms of the approach that she maintains to her academics and her long-term career goals.
It’s a balance that is also evidenced at those precious “off the court” moments that provide the wonderful memories, within the team, that will last for years. “In any situation, it’s the people that you’re around that make that situation so much more enjoyable, so much more special,” she said.
In that sense, she turns to both her long-time coach and her teammates. “Dale (Beausoleil) makes the environment. He’s teaching, but he’s also laughing with you. He’s got the competitive side, but he’s also got the fun side. As a coach, he’s got a great balance between fun and competitive.”
“Haley Chisholm is, as far as goofballs, she’s our leader,” said Bastien with a laugh. “She’s very appreciative of everything around her. She never holds a grudge, she lets things roll off her. She uses her humour to lighten up the mood. We kind of feed off each other.”
“She starts off with the craziness and I’ll jump in,” Bastien continued. “I find that our sense of humour within our team brings us back up. Personally, I think that we’re a very funny bunch, although I’m not sure everyone else thinks that we’re funny.”
There is clearly common ground that Bastien shares with her teammates, in general, and Chisholm, more specifically. A sense of humour might be at the top of the list, but a grounded appreciation for all that is good in one’s surroundings likely ranks close behind.
“Within every practice, you will find challenges, but it’s the overall experience that really keeps me positive,” stated Bastien. “The fact that I still get to play a game that I love at a level that not everyone gets to play at is special. I’ve worked hard, I’ve earned this. This is a reward to be here.”
A true multi-sport athlete, the very well-spoken “nurse to be” committed completely to volleyball only during her grade 10 year with the Chargers, the same season she started with the Chill. “It was probably not long after I started to play competitive that I thought about playing at Cambrian,” she said.
“I wasn’t too sure if I had the caliber, if I would “get it”, but I’m really glad I pursued it. Every year that I’ve played for Dale, I’ve progressed. Every year, I’ve gotten something, developed an edge, picked up more skill, watched an NCAA athlete and picked up something. This year is the best year of volleyball that I’ve ever had.”
And when volleyball takes a backseat to life and all that lies ahead for Bastien, there are sure to be many more “best years”. It’s a by-product of the way she looks at the world around her, with a very healthy balance, by almost any measure imaginable.