Two-Sport Athlete Grace Kazanowski

Two-Sport Athlete Grace Kazanowski

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

You are a talented two-sport athlete.

Basketball and volleyball are your forte.

In Grade 10 you decide that your passion has shifted to volleyball.

You will still play both sports for your high school team but volleyball will be the main focus during the year with high school and club practice and games.

Your dad is a basketball junkie and former player of note.

Will there be any pressure in letting him know of your decision?

"Honestly there was no pressure at all," recalls Grace Kazanowski, of the day she told her father Gerald Kazanowski.  "Both my dad and mother (Claudia) were very supportive. I remember the day I told my dad that I loved volleyball more than basketball. He was supportive right away."

Her dad was no run-of-the-mill hoopster though. A member of several Canadian Olympic men's hoop teams. He is one of just 55 Canadians (or players from Canadian post-secondary) to ever be drafted by the National Basketball Association. His call was in 1983 with Utah Jazz selecting him at the 146th spot.

Despite what you may read elsewhere, 1983 had the most Canadian-content ever with four other players getting selected.

But this story is about Grace not her dad.

Grace, 19, is now into her second year of post-secondary volleyball and her first in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) while suiting up for the Lethbridge College Kodiaks.

Last year she was a member of the Camosun College Chargers in the Pacific Western Athletic Association.

The Chargers, based in Victoria, British Columbia, have a strong women's program. During the last four years they have medalled at Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships with silver in 2017 and bronze in 2015..

The 6-foot tall middle had a decent rookie season as she was Rookie of the Year for the team and had an impressive 47 blocks in 82 sets which was 10th best for the conference.

So why the move east to southern Alberta for 2018-2019?

Perhaps it is because the Lakeland Rustlers won the CCAA crown in 2017 and the Red Deer Queens in 2015?

Or maybe not.

"I loved the team and I loved the coaches and I loved the school and had lots of fun," admits Grace. "But the college was only 10 minutes from where I went to high school and I knew that I wanted to move away and grow as an individual and become more independent. Lethbridge seemed really nice and I contacted them to ask if they had any room on the team for me and they did.

"Plus I have a lot of friends out here and they told me how nice the college was to be at."

A few games into the early ACAC season (one match won seven matches lost) Grace said the main difference between the ACAC and PACWEST is that "the girls in the PACWEST are much taller there."

An outstanding high jumper in high school, Grace has an older sister Sarah, 21, who is currently "studying in Jordan."

The two are well known in the North Saanich district as they would perform music (Grace on piano and Sarah on guitar) at various functions.

"We performed at local concerts in the summer or at school with coffee concerts. We would do Christmas concerts and stuff at church. He played and sung all kinds of music as we did not have a specific genre."

Enrolled in Business Administration, Grace said she is, "Still trying to figure out what to do in future....what I want to specialize in. I picture myself being a business women until I find my true passion and then work hard at it."

Asked what she considers to be her strength on the hardwood, she replied:" I think I am strong mentally. I find myself good at blocking and that would be my most technical aspect. My presence at the net."

Grace has recorded 31 kills and 32 solo blocks so far this season.