Nicole Collard has used five specific words more than anything else during the last four years. These words have come to define her life and helped her become a sizzling volleyball prospect with multiple awards earned at the high school and club levels.
“The term, ‘I can’t, I have volleyball’ is something I‘ve been saying a lot,” the 17-year-old Lasalle Secondary graduate said. “It’s been my answer to everything and I don’t regret it one bit. Volleyball has been my life for the last four years and it will be my life for the next four years.”
When Collard came to Greater Sudbury five years ago with her family from Kitchener, she was a gymnast. After playing in a Grade 8 volleyball tournament, local volleyball coach Stephen Beausoleil suggested Collard give the sport an honest shot. She did. The decision led her on a path to play for the University of Guelph this fall, and where she will study biological sciences. It was a decision which changed her life and gave her the challenge she was looking for.
It wasn’t an easy road. There were hard lessons along the way. Collard looks back on her past four years and knows it has made her into the strong and confident young woman she is today. A person ready and prepared for the next stage of academics and athletics.
“Volleyball opened up a new lifestyle for me,” she said. “In Grade 9, I didn’t play much and sat on the bench. I went from that to a starter to a team captain to a MVP, for club and high school.
"I made sacrifices and pushed to be a starter. I never quit. I learned if you love something, pursue it with all you've got.”
During volleyball season, Collard is a blur from morning to night. With the widest smile on her face, she proudly admits there are times when she is playing the sport seven days a week. The people involved with the game locally — coaches, managers, teammates, and supporters — have made an undeniable mark on Collard. She counts these people as a second family.
“Everyone has positively influenced me,” she said. “I’m not mad when I have practice. I’ve found that one thing I love to do. Volleyball is going to drive me every day. I’m more determined and aware of what is going on with every aspect of my life.”
Collard pours everything she has into reaching her goals. When she isn’t playing or training, Collard is doing another form of high-level activity to keep her athletic instincts honed. During track season, Collard blew away the competition by winning the city championship titles for senior girls’ long jump and triple jump. It’s go, go, go all the time for Collard and she wouldn’t do it any other way.
“It’s a hard lifestyle," she said. "I have no other way to live."
Collard is blessed with natural athletic ability. She also had the presence of mind as she grew up to know it would take more than natural ability to go beyond her lofty expectations. She has worked hard to earn her accolades and place in the sport. She drives herself at a relentless pace to put forth her best every day. She relishes making the big play, but also gets equal joy from seeing a teammate succeed. Collard has shown herself to be committed and caring. And she’s willing to do anything to keep herself going in the right direction.
“Mediocre is not a word in her vocabulary,” Northern Chill coach Michael Margarit said. “Nicole does not shy away from competition. She embraces the challenge whether it is meeting the task in a drill or a national championship, she approaches each situation with the same level of compete.
"Nicole is an extremely conscientious and sincere individual. As an organization, we are naturally proud of the accolades she has achieved with us. However, that sense of pride is even greater as a result of the way she has conducted herself and represented our organization during her time here.”
Collard set a shining example for others to follow in high school. She maintained high grades, was the athletic council vice-president and was an all-around positive influence and presence during her four years at Lasalle.
“She’s passionate and enthusiastic,” teacher and volleyball coach Millie Wood Colton said. “She grew into a leader in school and sport. Her pleasant and sunny personality stands out —she is an upbeat and positive person and she puts a smile on your face when you talk to her.”
Nicole Collard file17, 6-0, middle blocker
Three-time Lasalle Female Athlete of the Year
Two-time Lasalle volleyball MVP
Two-time Northern Chill Player of the Year
Three-time Lasalle Scholar Honour Roll student
Colin Hood OFSAA Award recipient
G.W. Thomson Award recipient
OVA Division II All-star
Posted by Laurel Myers