Following Family Footsteps
You could say it is the thing to do if you are in the Willems family. Alicia is the fourth member of her family to attend Briercrest College and Seminary.
“Both my parents (Brad and Donna) attended Briercrest and my brother (Steve) was in his second year here when I graduated from high school”, said Willems. “So needless to say, Briercrest is kind of in the family. I also had the opportunity to play volleyball here, so that sealed the deal.”
She is also not the first in her family to play volleyball for Briercrest, as her dad had a short stint with the men’s program, before transitioning to the hockey program back when he attended.
Making her own mark
Willems is now in her second season with the Clippers and is making her own mark on campus. After being a key role player as a serving sub for the team last year, she has taken on a larger role this year. She has developed into a key player at the left side hitter position, earning some time as a starter.
She notes, “A personal achievement of mine this season was being recognized as player of the game against the Keyano Huskies in Fort McMurray.”
Before coming to Briercrest, Willems played at Mennonite Educational Institute in Abbotsford, BC, and also for Oasis Volleyball Club. She had a successful high school career, highlighted by a Provincial Championship in her Grade 9 year, and a silver medal at provincials in Grade 12.
“My dad has definitely been the biggest influence on my life as an athlete. He continues to play a large role in my life as a volleyball player, said Willems. “He has been my coach for several high school and club seasons, and is currently the assistant coach for the women’s team at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford. He’s always giving me tips on how I can continue to improve as a volleyball player and seeks to help me become the best player I can be.”
Enjoying the experience
Willems realizes now fully realizes why Briercrest is the school of choice in her family.
“The thing I enjoy most about being a Briercrest athlete is the opportunity to be surrounded by fellow believers, teammates who trust and follow the same God I do. It really is a very rare situation, and one that I do not take for granted. I love how everything we do is focused towards bringing praise and glory to the Lord.”
Last season, Willems got a taste of the Conference Championships, which has been a highlight for her so far.
“Definitely one of the most memorable moments while being at Briercrest was making ACAC provincials last year. It was a very exciting season for all of us girls, and having the opportunity to compete at provincials really was an amazing way to end a successful season.”
The faith to press on
Things have definitely not been easy for Willems during her career, as she has battled through several injuries to keep playing the sport she loves.
“Fairly early on I developed shin splints, which is more than uncomfortable to play with”, she said. “I then got a rotator cuff injury which prevented me from swinging. And currently I struggle with jumper’s knee, which is a constant battle in every practice and game I play in. That would probably be the biggest road block I’ve encountered in my life, and one that I continue to deal with every day.”
It is her faith and trust in God that helps her to take things one day at a time and to rely on Him to give her the ability to play.
“My favorite Scripture verse is, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)’”, says Willems.
Knowing that He has given her the ability and opportunity to play, the second-year left side wants to make the most of it, and would like nothing more than to help her team get back to the playoffs this season.
“I am looking forward to the rest of this season, with hopes to help my team accomplish our fullest potential.”