Active 14-year-old, Kiana Maria Harquail, credits volleyball with helping her to come out of her shell.
Of the Mi’kmaq from Eel River Bar First Nation, the bi-lingual teenager has a passion for the game that started when she was 11-year-old. In just three years the formerly reserved youngster has grown in confidence and athletic ability playing for her French middle school team and elite club team in New Brunswick.
“I’m a lot less shy than I was before,” remarked Harquail. “Improving as a volleyball player has built me up, and helped me to feel more confident as a person. I’ve made a lot of friends and I’ve gotten to know a great group of Indigenous women.”
She says the sport has also helped her to be a more attentive friend to her teammates which she says mean a lot to her.
“Volleyball has helped me develop skills and abilities such as listening to others opinions, respect, communication and leadership,” said Harquail. “I hope to continue to share these skills with my teammates.”
The Toronto 2017, North American Indigenous Games will be Harquail’s first Games experience. She says the thing she looks forward to the most is the opportunity to connect with Indigenous athletes from other communities.
“I love meeting new people and when I saw the opportunity and the experience that Team NB was going to give me I went for it,” said Harquail. “Being part of the team makes me happy and proud to be Indigenous.”
The busy teenager has been able to successfully manage school with all of her athletic endeavors. She competes in two other sports; track and field, and ultimate Frisbee, but says her passion right now is for one sport—volleyball.
“When I’m not playing volleyball you can find me either at the gym working out or my head in my books studying,” said Harquail. “The sport has become a lifestyle for me. I live and breathe volleyball, it’s in my veins.”