Friends become teammates for Summer Games

At 5-foot-3, Asia Rattigan isn’t worried about the added challenge her lack of height brings on the court

Volleyball players Nicole Bracewell and Asia Rattigan will represent Greater Victoria on the 15-and-under Zone 6 team heading to the B.C. Summer Games in Surrey

At 5-foot-3, Asia Rattigan isn’t worried about the added challenge her height, or lack thereof, brings on the volleyball court.

Especially in the company of pal Nicole Bracewell, all six feet of her.

The pair of 15 year olds are the South Island’s only contribution to the Island and Coastal (Zone 6) 15-and-under volleyball team competing in the B.C. Summer Games in Surrey, July 19 to 22.

“I’m usually the small kid,” said Rattigan, who’s also a Saanich News carrier of seven years. “Pretty much always, actually.”

But don’t be deceived, said Bracewell.

“(Rattigan’s) got hops. She’s a great setter and she can get to almost any ball and will dive for anything.”

As added proof, Rattigan tied for first in the pole vault for bantam age girls at the track and field city championships.

The friends were born two days apart and are separated by nine inches in height, and are enjoying summer before Grade 10. Rattigan will return to Oak Bay High, while Bracewell is transferring to Belmont secondary from Spencer middle school.

On June 4, they were among 56 girls trying out for the Zone 6 team in Nanaimo. It was an all day process, with plenty of individual skills and drills.

The Summer Games is a rare chance for the girls to play together on the same team. They were both on a representative Victoria entry at an international tournament last year. But here in town, Bracewell plays on the right side and middle with the 250 Titans’ U16 squad, while Rattigan is a setter with the Victoria Volleyball Association’s U15 Chargers. They’ll likely assume the same roles at the Summer Games.

Since making the roster, the girls are training 10 to 11 hours per day in Campbell River, four days per week leading up to July 19.

“It’s great to get to play together for once,” Rattigan said. “Nicole’s an amazing blocker and a super passer. She’s an overall great teammate, but is pretty competitive and shows no mercy (in going for kills).”

Rattigan got her start at the volleyball factory that is Lansdowne middle school under coach Rick Wutzke.

Lansdowne is better known for producing many of the city’s top male volleyball players despite the boys lagging in numbers behind the girls.

Wuztke is co-coaching the Zone 6 boys U15 team with Oak Bay High’s Al Carmichael. Just 14 players come out to tryouts, with 11 making the team, nine of them from Victoria: Haansen Christenson, Alan Lau, Michael Connacher, David Lee, Matt Mitchner, Kyle Bourden, Cole Beevor-Potts, John Fitterer and Dan Chen.

Seven of the players are from Lansdowne, and were with the U15 Chargers that finished second at the club provincials this spring.

“Actually, (Rattigan) used to practise with the boys too,” Wutzke said.

“When we went to the gym at recess, she was there.

“She’s going to be a great player. The beauty is, even though she won’t be a tall girl, she’ll have a spot as a libero.”

About 4,000 visitors – including spectators, athletes, officials and coaches, as well as their families and friends – are expected to flow into Surrey during the three days of the event. The economic impact is expected to be between $2.5 and $3 million to restaurants, shopping malls and transportation.