BY DAVID MOWBRAY
– Courier Staff
Nineteen year-old Bena Klimaszewska sits slouched in a tiger striped easy chair in back of Pam’s Cafe on Queen St. in the Beaches area. She is comfortable, in familiar surroundings, yet there is a slight edginess about her. Almost as if she is missing something. She plays with her ring on her finger and continually strikes her short blonde hair. Klimaszewska is longing for her lost love; volleyball.
Klimaszewska, a Centennial Colts girls volleyball star, ended her season over a month ago and the avid beach volleyball player wont touch the sand court for at least another two months.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says Klimaszewska, “volleyball is so motivating for me. I can’t wait for next season to start up.”
The native of Kolno, Poland, a small city two hours from Warsaw, has had a passion for volleyball since grade 10 where she attended Midland Collegiate.
“I played basketball for a while in Poland, but never volleyball,” says Klimaszewska, “then when I came to Canada five years ago I just picked up volleyball and fell in love with it.”
Klimaszewska certainly has the height and the athleticism for both sports, at 5′ 10″ she also plays beach volleyball with the Toronto East Sport and Society Club. Last year Klimaszewska played a lot of two-on-two volleyball on. the beach and is iooking for a steady playing partner for the upcoming summer. The problem is finding someone that can keep up with her.
“I literally live.on the beach in the summer. I sometimes play for six hours straight in a day, so I need a player with the same dedication as me,” says Klimaszewska.
Dedication is an important aspect of Klimaszewska’s college volleyball game as well. Although the Colts had a rough season, finishing 0-12, in what was considered a re-building year, she feels with the right team focus and commitment next year’s squad could challenge for a play-off spot.
“I don’t see why not,” Klimaszewska says, “we are a very young team and we’ve grown so much this year, both individually and as a group.”
Colts head coach Dave St.John has also played an important role in Klimaszewska’s development over the past year.
“I like the way he (St.John) coaches,” says Klimaszewska. “Sometimes I need to be directed on what to do on the court and he knows much more than us when it comes to volleyball.”
Klimaszewska doesn’t want to end her volleyball career in college. She hopes to one day join the Pro Beach volleyball circuit. She is realistic when it comes to the commitment that it would take.
“It would take years of hard work to make the circuit, but I work out, I try and eat healthy so you never know what will happen,” says Klimaszewska.
For now though that dream is a few years down the road. At the moment the first year Recreation and Leisure student is just trying to juggle school, a part-time job at a music store and her passion for volleyball. Klimaszewska credits her love of volleyball to her success in most aspects of her life.
“Without volleyball my motivation would be so low. It really helps me with my school work and boosts my energy level.”
In fact Klimaszewska even took into consideration whether or not a college had a volleyball team when she was choosing a school.
While watching a Colts volleyball game it is easy to see how Klimaszewska’s team mates feed off of her motivation. But she has always been modest about her role on the team.
“I like to think of myself as a leader,” says Klimaszewska, “but it takes the entire team to win and to lead.”
For Klimaszewska last year was not all about winning, she was able to make some close friendships with her teammates. A highlight for her was the teams 1999 Christmas party..
“It was great to see everybody off of the court and all dressed up. Its weird we all actually enjoy being with one another,” muses Klimaszewska.
This camaraderie should help the Colts next season, as returning players Christina Soares and Leana Milos join Klimaszewska for another stab at a Championship.
But for Klimaszewska volleyball is really about having fun.
“If we stay positive and have fun then we will always have a chance to win.”