(FREDERICTON, NB) She’s coming to UNB to continue her education, but Siobhan Fitzpatrick will provide the Varsity Reds women’s volleyball team with a big boost.
After four years of study at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, in Kelowna, Fitzpatrick has chosen to pursue her PhD in Clinical Psychology at UNB.
The Kelowna native helped the UBCO Heat to the Canada West Final Four in all four of her seasons.
“Understanding what kind of quality this person brings here, to the student and the athlete aspect of it, it makes us considerably better very quickly,” said John Richard, UNB’s Director of Athletics. “She’s certainly a very good player. They’ve been a U SPORTS top ten team the past couple of seasons and she fits an element that we certainly need.”
After leading the Heat in scoring and kills in 2016-17, Fitzpatrick finished second on the team in kills and kills per set this past season. She was third in digs and digs per set, as well as scoring.
She was recently named UBCO’s female student-athlete of the year for the second consecutive year, co-winner of UBCO’s graduating female athlete of the year award, and is on track to be named a U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian for the fourth straight year.
“I chose UNB because I could feel the sense of community that the university brings,” said Fitzpatrick. “Of all the contacts I had, whether they were individuals in the academic or athletic departments, they were so incredibly friendly, supportive and welcoming. I believe that says something about the standard of the university and the city of Fredericton as a whole.”
Individually, Fitzpatrick finished in the top 15 in the Canada West conference in kills, and top 20 in digs per set.
As a team, the Heat were never ranked lower than 7th in the U SPORTS Top 10 rankings of women’s volleyball teams this past season, and spent three weeks as the country’s top-ranked team.
“I don’t believe that one single player makes a team or changes a program,” she said. “From what I can tell, the group of women that make up the Varsity Reds are extremely hard working, dedicated and supportive. I look forward to bringing those same attributes to the program and to working alongside these women. I am very excited for what this year will bring.”
“Siobhan is extremely dedicated, driven and hard working in everything that she does,” said Steve Manuel.
The Baie Ste. Anne, NB, native has been the head coach of UBCO’s women’s volleyball team for 17 seasons. He was instrumental in pointing Fitzpatrick in UNB’s direction.
“She wants to be successful and is not afraid to put in the work in to achieve her goals,” he said. “She is a good teammate and a leader, was captain of our team.”
“I believe that she will help raise the level of training and competition right away,” said Manuel. “I’ve watched UNB play quite a bit in the past couple of seasons and there are some key pieces already in place. Chev(Siobhan’s nickname) will be coming from a program that has a culture of excellence and success, she’ll be able to transfer that philosophy to her new teammates.”
Richard, who served as head coach of the Varsity Reds women’s team for 14 years, after three as an assistant, before becoming Athletic Director, is currently engaged in a search for a new coach for the team following Jilliane Portelli’s announced departure.
He, effectively, recruited the veteran outside hitter.
“One of the attractions for me was that she was going to be here for four or five years, and she wanted to be involved, at some level, for four or five years,” he said. “When you have someone who wants to be involved, outside of the one year she’s going to play, there’s a lot of value there.”
Fitzpatrick won’t just be transitioning from west to east.
She’s leaving one of the top teams in the country, and joining a team that went without a win in 2017-18.
But, she says she’s ready.
“My time with the Heat taught me that to have any form of success, I had to work extremely hard and be completely dedicated all year round. I think that I can bring my experience of grinding it out in the tough Canada West league to the program, and add to the already high level of dedication and work ethic these women display day in and day out.”
Fitzpatrick will join the Varsity Reds for the 2018-19 Atlantic University Sport season.