by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
It was at the end of the 14-minute interview with Tianna Smith that this writer posed the question, "What are your future goals in life?"
An easy question to ask and a difficult one to answer at times.
The Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder women's volleyball star was quick to answer.
"I would like to become an accountant and when that becomes too boring...a police officer."
Saying "Thank You" and ending the phone call...the realization hit... Tianna Smith is well-suited to become an accountant and police officer.
In a fashion, she has been doing the two jobs for a long time.
The 21 year-old from Spruce Grove, Alberta is the oldest of seven siblings with three sisters and three brothers at home.
"It's pretty hectic around the house at times," admits Smith, a fourth-year volleyball middle, who is enrolled in Business Management "When we do have family dinners, we have to make the table bigger and have 10 seats as my brother's girlfriend is usually there. There is a lot of food and a lot of seats."
After graduating from Spruce Grove Composite High School, Smith had planned to relocate south to Calgary where she would attend Mount Royal University.
The sport of volleyball, where she was a star in high school and club, would be placed on the backburners with full concentration on studies.
"I did not think that I would be good enough to make the team. I was heading to Calgary for schooling only."
Fate stepped in with the advice of her former high school Athletic Director and a club volleyball teammate.
"The AD of my high school told me that Trever Turner (Thunder women's volleyball coach) was looking for a middle and that I should go check it out. Plus one of my friends from club, Jae-Lyn Visscher, also suggested it.
"So, a few months before I was supposed to leave to go to Calgary, I was invited to Concordia for an open gym practice.
"I just went out there for the touches and go hangout with some friends and then go home.
"At the end of practice, he (Turner) said "We have a spot on the team if you want to play for us." I wasn't expecting to be offered a spot on the team right off the bat."
Smith would be in residence for her first semester at Concordia, before returning to the hectic nest at home.
"I missed my family the entire time I was in residence and I was sleeping back at home just about every night anyway, so it was best to move and stay home for that and financial reasons."
Smith has proven herself wrong, dispelling the belief that she did not have the talent for "post-secondary volleyball".
In her rookie year 2015-2016 she appeared in 40 sets while recording 24 kills, 25 digs, 8 blocks and 9 service aces.
She nearly doubled her court time in 2016-2017, lacing up for 75 sets with 66 kills, 53 digs, 12 blocks and 13 service aces.
Last year Smith once again increased the numbers across the board with 130 kills, 98 digs, 27 blocks and 28 service aces despite playing five less sets.
She said when her entire family unit attends Thunder games, that "it is pretty good and loud."
The Thunder are currently standing at one match won, three matches lost with three sets won and nine sets loss. Smith leads the team in kills (26).
Asked what is the best and worst thing about coexisting in a family of nine?
"Worst? The amount of busyness and how busy the entire family is".
"Best? We are basically our own team, so we can play sports against each other".