After four successful years with Capilano University, Kira Sutcliffe is off to play professional volleyball in Europe.
A right side hitter from Rock Creek in BC’s Southern Interior, Sutcliffe signed a contract with Brondby Volleyball Klub in Copenhagen, Denmark, and will head overseas in August to get ready for her first pro season. Her new team will mostly play other Danish teams, while also traveling around Europe to play in tournaments and cup championships.
“I made a highlight video, and then it was talking to people that have had a similar experience that had gone out and played pro, so I was lucky enough that Alissa Coulter – she’s one of the left sides for the national team – she played for this team, and I contacted her asking if their team was looking for a right side,” said Sutcliffe. “She contacted their coach, I sent the video off to them, their manager got a hold of me, and I talked to their manager and head coach and was able to do it – so they sent me a contract.”
Sutcliffe has continued to train throughout the summer in order to prepare for what she expects to be a much more competitive atmosphere. While the PACWEST features many young players fresh out of high school who are adjusting to more pressure, the Danish league will be a job where you’re expected to consistently perform well.
“What I’ve been told is that it’s not as much coaching that goes on over there,” said Sutcliffe. “You go over there and you’re the athlete you are, they’re not going to fix many things – so they’re recruiting you for who you already are, which is nice.”
Sutcliffe didn’t start playing volleyball until grade 11, when her high school’s soccer program folded and she decided to switch sports. She played club volleyball in Kelowna for two years – driving an hour and 45 minutes each way three times a week – and made Team BC, which is where she met current CapU women’s volleyball head coach Cal Wohlford. Sutcliffe then played for Thompson Rivers University, but decided to quit the sport altogether after two years.
Wohlford had always seen potential in Sutcliffe, and was able to convince her to play again at Capilano – saying that he believed that she could eventually play overseas. While studying Business at Cap, Sutcliffe became a two-time CCAA All-Canadian, a three-time PACWEST First Team All-Star, and was named PACWEST Player of the Year in 2014-15. She won three PACWEST bronze medals with the Blues, and was also twice named Capilano Blues Female Athlete of the Year.
Sutcliffe will be joined by a pair of familiar faces in Copenhagen. Two other athletes from the PACWEST will also join Brondby: Lainey Jantzi, a middle from Camosun College, and Megan Rosenlund, last year’s conference Player of the Year from Vancouver Island University. All three knew each other from league play over the past few season, and they’ll all live together in Denmark as well.
Sutcliffe heads to Copenhagen in the middle of August, and training with Brondby will start at the end of August. The season will then run until April.
“[Playing pro] definitely was a goal, but I wasn’t sure how achievable it was,” said Sutcliffe. “Then I kinda set my mind to it at the end of my fourth year, beginning of the fifth year – that was my last year in this league, and I wasn’t really done playing yet.”