You can take the volleyball player out of the school, but you can never take the school out of the volleyball player, and Gander's Robyn Hollohan is a prime example of that.
Ever since graduating from Gander Collegiate in 2005, Hollohan has taken the lessons passed down to her by her former Concordes' head coach Bob Dyckson, and it's serving her well.
Following graduation, Hollohan competed in the St. John's Women's Volleyball League with Sir Wilfred Grenfell College for a year, and now she's the elder statesperson with the Mount St. Vincent University Mystics women's volleyball team, who compete in the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association (ACAA), which is a part of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
Hollohan may be 1,154 kilometres away, but the lessons instilled in her through Dyckson remain right by her side.
"When I think back to St. Paul's Intermediate and Gander Collegiate volleyball, I think about my coach. He developed me into the player I am today: focused, driven and determined," said Hollohan. "Mr. Robert Dyckson was my coach for my entire volleyball years in Gander and I always remember his focus and determination to keep working hard. It was always just one more point, never the game or the tournament, but focusing on the now and doing the best we could at that given time."
Hollohan plays left side for the 7-0 Mystics, who have won all but two sets of volleyball so far this season. She's in her rookie season with the Mystics, but at 24, is the oldest player on the team. She's currently completing her second degree, and because she has so much experience in the classroom and on the court, Hollohan believes her maturity has helped bring her along.
"I am the oldest player on the Mystics and the only one completing a second degree, so I feel more like a mother at times to my teammates. My seniority and maturity have helped me this season by keeping me focused on my game and on my studies," said Hollohan. "I am often coming off the bench, but have recently been breaking into the starting lineup on a few matches. I even received a player of the game award early this season. It is all a learning experience and getting the opportunity to start as many games as I can is a major goal of mine."
Besides taking on a leadership and mentor role, Hollohan has also had to get used to playing in a new position. Typically a middle blocker, a position she's played her entire career, Hollohan was put into the left side position by head coach Derek Brooks.
She said the transition has been challenging, but the hard work and constant practicing has been paying off.
"It is certainly a challenge being put into a new position. It is a constant challenge playing with many more experienced and younger players than myself, but I am holding my own and bringing a mature mind onto the court with a diverse background of experiences," she said. "It was a big change moving from St. John's playing with older women to now playing in Halifax with such an diverse and energetic group of young women.
"Coach Derek Brooks is an inspiration. He works extremely hard and is very dedicated to this team. He is a pleasure to play for and I learn something new from him every day," added the former Concorde. "My team works very hard together on and off the court, and
our team dynamic is exceptional for such a diverse group of women."
The long-time basketball and track and field standout is certainly thriving in a new environment, and her new teammates seem to enjoy having the Newfoundlander around.
She's the lone Newfoundlander on the team, and the rest of the girls don't think twice about tossing out the occasional joke - but it's all in good fun.
"It is very different but my team is always up for a Newfoundlander joke. I do not have a thick accent but my teammates tell me when I get excited about something my true accent comes out," said Hollohan. "I commonly get asked things about our food, sayings and how or why we do certain things."
Hollohan is completing her Bachelor of Secondary Education, and she already has an Honours Degree in History with a minor in Biology from Memorial University. She plans on returning to MSVU for her last year of her Education Degree, and is looking forward to returning to the Mystics.
However, she may not be attending this year's provincial senior volleyball tournament in March, as she hopes to be competing for a much larger title.
"I am hoping we will make nationals in Nanimo, B.C., which is the same weekend as provincials," said Hollohan. "I will miss that tournament very much as it was always the highlight of my year. But if something does not turn out, I am hoping to find a team to play with and get involved in the best volleyball in the province."