Shanelle Somers, Conner McTague, Austin Andru
It’s an odd pairing. A bus ride two decades ago started a relationship between two players on the Durham College men’s and women’s volleyball teams.
Fast forward to 2018 and that relationship has produced a standout player on this year’s women’s volleyball team.
Cassidy Nicholson-Clarke is a decorated athlete from Pickering High School and is still power playing her way as a key rookie on the Lords.
At 5-foot-10, middle hitter Nicholson-Clarke plays a solid game and holds a personal season-high of eight kills against George Brown. She also has a high of four blocks in one game.
It’s all part of the family legacy, apparently. Nicholson-Clarke’s parents are DC alumni. Her mother Sophie studied business administration and father Rob studied sports administration between 1986 – 1989.
“They met at DC. They started talking on the buses and that’s how their relationship started,” says Nicholson-Clarke.
Their love story ultimately led to Nicholson-Clarke playing volleyball at DC.
In January she was honoured for her hard work on the team by being named DC student-athlete of the week for the Lords.
“It’s pretty cool considering it’s my first season, like I’m a rookie. It’s kind of cool to get an accomplishment like this, get recognized by the school,” says Nicholson-Clarke.
Although she is an accomplished player at a young age, Nicholson-Clarke experiences happiness when thinking about her success. This is what motivates her to keep doing well.
“Cassidy has gone above and beyond every day. She works hard on and off the court and she really tries to lead by example for being a first year player,” says head coach Tony Clarke, no relation to the player.
Nicholson-Clarke attributes her success to her development while playing for Durham Attack, a club based volleyball program in the region.
She says she is thankful for what the Attack has done for her during her five years with the club. Nicholson-Clarke says they have helped her develop as a player and credits her coaches and the practice time. It’s also given her opportunities to coach younger players.
This year the Lords hope to finish in the top three in the Ontario east division and be in a good position for their divisional crossover match against western teams working to enter the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) championships.
Coach Clarke says Nicholson-Clarke likes to poke around and have fun but when it’s game time she is pretty easy to pull back and focus. He also says for being a freshman she has overcome first year jitters.
Nicholson-Clarke says if she can go further playing volleyball it would be good but, she is happy where she is now.
“It feels good to be at DC because it feels like home because my parents went here,” says Nicholson-Clarke.