A bureaucratic snafu can create a myriad of headaches, but for Kayla Bruce, a tangled mass of red tape turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
When Bruce graduated from Fleetwood Park Secondary five years ago, she seemed to have her post-secondary plans all mapped out, including a spot reserved for her with Simon Fraser University's women's volleyball program. Instead, weeks after her graduation ceremony she learned an administrative error in her transcript left her ineligible for admission to SFU.
"I was so upset when it happened and I wondered what I was going to do," said Bruce, now 22. "Now I totally look at that as blessing in disguise. That was totally God saying you should not be going to SFU. I'm so thankful for that because look at where I am now - I wouldn't have gone to bible college, I wouldn't have gone to (University of the Fraser Valley), I wouldn't have met my fiancÃ© and I wouldn't have had such a great time playing college volleyball. It all worked out fine for me."
Fast forward five years and today Bruce is a woman in demand in B.C. college volleyball circles. After spending two years at bible college in Saskatchewan, Bruce returned home to finish her education at UFV where she has helped turned the volleyball program into a national power.
She is currently in Lloydminster, Alberta with the UFV women's team, a tournament that will force her to miss the Sport B.C. Athlete of the Year Awards in Richmond tonight (March 7) where she is a finalist for College Athlete of the Year.
The honour is just the latest in a long string of accolades posted on her volleyball resumÃ©. Last year the 5-foot-10 middle blocker was named PAC-West player of the year, Canadian Colleges Athletic Association all-Canadian, UFV team MVP and UFV player of the year. So far this season she has repeated as PAC-West player of the year as well as earning MVP honours at the provincial championships.
Bruce admitted she did not know there were so many awards for college volleyball players and was quick to point out her Cascades team has plenty of worthy candidates for post-season silverware. She singled out setter Kira Tome and libero Brittany Stewart for their outstanding play this season.
"I try to be as humble about it as I can," she said of her growing list of athletic baubles.
"People always make jokes about all the awards, but it really could be anyone on our team. I have never played with such a great group of girls and any one of them can dominate. Any one of them could win these awards, but a lot of them don't get as much recognition because of their positions or their role isn't as a play finisher."
With five seasons of college volleyball behind her, Bruce is making her final season a memorable one. Coming off a third-place finish at nationals in 2012, the Cascades have been absolutely dominant this season. Fraser Valley has been ranked number one in Canada all season.
On a personal level, Bruce is engaged to be married this summer and for the first time, she is playing volleyball on a team with her younger sister, Chantal.
Last month the Cascades made school history by capturing their first ever provincial championship with a straight sets win over the Columbia Bearcats in the final.
That win put UFV in the national tournament for the second straight year and Bruce said there is only one goal for the Cascades this time around. In short, another bronze medal won't cut it.
"When we went to nationals last year it was a whole new level for us," she said. "We had never been there before and we had never see most of the teams that were there.
"This year we've been ranked number one in the CCAA and we're going into the tournament seeded number one.
"Maintaining that number-one position all year has been awesome because now we're going to nationals with a better road to the final. That's nice that we have a good draw, but it really doesn't mean anything if we don't play well."
The downside of the nationals is she will miss out on tonight's Sport B.C. gala in Richmond but, as usual, she was quick to see the bright side.
"It's a little disappointing because I know it will be a lot of fun with some cool people there," she said.
"Really though, the reason I'm nominated is because of volleyball and I would rather be with my teammates at nationals."
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