(FREDERICTON, NB) If you see Christine Biggs, take a moment to say hi. Chances are, you’ll only get a moment, as the head coach of the UNB Reds women’s volleyball team is navigating her way through a busy couple of months.
The summer of 2019 sees Biggs travelling extensively.
Biggs, who led the Reds to the 2019 Atlantic University Sport championship match and was named AUS Coach of the Year, recently visited Japan with Canada’s women’s sitting volleyball team. She’s the team’s assistant coach.
Team Canada took part in the Sitting Volleyball Challenge, competing against the host Japanese, China, and Italy.
“We’re grateful for each opportunity we get to play an international sitting volleyball match,” said Biggs. “Not long ago we struggled to find opponents, but with the recent growth of the program, we’ve been fortunate to attract more international invitations to train and compete with various countries.”
After two weeks in Japan, Biggs returned to Fredericton.
Despite a busy and travel-filled schedule, she continues to work with Reds student-athletes on technical training and preparation for the 2019-2020 AUS season. She’s also scheduled some recruiting activities.
In mid-June, Biggs was in Edmonton, where she re-joined the national sitting volleyball team for a training camp, and received her Master of Coaching degree during a graduation ceremony at the University of Alberta.
She’s back in Fredericton now, but heads to Halifax next month for a Volleyball Canada event before returning to Edmonton for more training with the women’s sitting team ahead of their August trip to the 2019 Para Pan-Am Games, in Lima, Peru.
While she adds plenty of frequent flyer miles to her account, Biggs knows she’s adding to her coaching repertoire and resume too.
“Working in a variety of contexts is beneficial for my growth as a coach,” said Biggs. “Exposure to different sets of challenges encourages new ways of thinking and requires different sets of problem-solving skills. I’m grateful for the learning that comes from working with different coaches and athletes, as well as the opportunities that come with competing against different styles of volleyball from across the country and across the world.”
She’s the first to admit that, while she’s busy, she’s not the busiest volleyball coach in Canada, not even the most travelled.
Biggs says she’s just doing what she loves to do.
“I want to contribute what I can to help each program be as strong as it can be, and for the athletes to have the best possible experience in their pursuit of athletic excellence,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of research-based and ‘classroom’ style learning recently, so I love seeing action and putting that into action.”
“This can only benefit our Reds women’s team,” says John Richard, UNB’s Director of Athletics. “The experience that Christine is gaining this summer will come back to our program in many ways. Whether that be through new strategies or in differing approaches to on-court or off-court situations, the Reds women’s volleyball team will benefit from this.”
“It doesn’t hurt that the Reds name and logo is going with her on these trips,” said Richard.
There’s a lot a stake in the sitting team’s trip to the Para Pan-Am Games, where they have an opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games, in Tokyo.
Biggs, who was the team’s assistant coach at the 2016 Paralympics, in Brazil, says Canada will face tough competition from sitting volleyball powerhouses like the USA and Brazil.
“Qualification for the Paralympics takes a lot of hard work, constant growth and evolution of our team and the game we play,” she said. “Nicole Ban, the team’s head coach, is fun and dynamic. She’s a creative thinker and innovative in our approach to the game. I believe the style our program has created is tough to play against, and that gives us the best opportunity to reach our immediate goal, which is Tokyo 2020 qualification.”
So, if all goes well, a summer of travel in 2019 should mean more travel in the summer of 2020.