Rebecca Vassilakakis is going back to the games.
The Castlegar resident will be coaching team B.C.’s squash squad at the Canada Winter Games.
Squash BC recently announced the selection of athletes that will be representing the province at the games, being held in Prince George from Feb. 13 to March 1, 2015 with squash being contested in the second week, from Feb. 23 to March 1.
Vassilakakis was named assistant coach/manager for the team back in 2011 and has been involved with the sculpting of this year’s team since then.
This isn’t her first experience with the team however.
“In 2011 there was an application put out to a coach and manager in the province to see if anyone wanted to go to the Canada Games,” she said.
“I had been before as a player as well as the manager/assistant coach role for the last three Games, so again, I applied and got that position. It’s been since 2011 that we’ve been going through this; narrowing down the squad and the official team was announced last week.”
Vassilakakis is a non-voting member of the team building process. She provides input on how the players are performing and improving but ultimately had no official say in the final decision.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, squash is a racquet sport played by two or four players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball. The players must alternate in striking the ball with their racquet and hitting the ball onto the playable surfaces of the four walls of the court. The name of the sport is derived from the small squishy ball used to play.
Vassilakakis has been involved in the sport ever since she was a child.
“I started playing squash when I was 10 and played on the National team and was the national Junior Champion years ago. I’ve stayed involved ever since.”
“There’s not really much for junior squash in this area so this is one way I can stay involved in junior squash on a more provincial level,” she added.
As for the games this year, the assistant coach is enthusiastic and optimistic.
“I’m excited about it. The games are an amazing experience and it feels like a mini Olympics. The athletes that go to this are the top athletes in the country from each province.”
She continued, “The communities that I’ve been in before really embrace it. They set up a whole athletes village, everyone’s got their team uniforms on, there are ceremonies and there’s a real team feeling. It’s interesting because squash is usually an individual sport. It’s a different feeling than a traditional squash tournament. This is embracing the whole of Canada Winter Games.”
The tournament in Prince George will be made up of multiple matches, so as Vassilakakis explained, it doesn’t just matter if you win or lose at an individual level. It matters on all four players on your team.
There is a women’s team and a men’s team.
In the previous games the women’s team took home the gold medal and the men won bronze.
“We don’t have high expectations per se, but it will be a tough act to follow from four years ago,” the manager said.
The team this time around is much younger than previous years but Vassilakakis is confident in her team and their strengths.
The Canada Games are a national multi-sport competition with participation from every province and territory in Canada. The games are held every two years, alternating between winter and summer and are a key step in the development of Canada’s amateur athletes.
The 2015 Canada Winter Games will bring together approximately 3,300 athletes, coaches, and managers from every province and territory to compete in 19 sports.
Team BC will send a dedicated team of 350 to the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, Feb. 13 to March 1, 2015.