By: Monty Mosher
Victoria Haworth doesn't often think about how much she has to do. She's too busy for that.
Haworth is a standout volleyball player for the Dalhousie Tigers. In her fourth season, the Waverley, N.S., natïve has helped the Rick Scott-coached Tigers to an undefeated regular season with only a few matches remaining before the playoffs.
Combining a regular course load and varsity sport might be plenty for most. But the 21-year-old Haworth, an academic all-Canadian, is doing a combined degree in medical science and engineering.
There is a family legacy of academic and athletic excellence at Dalhousie.
Sister Rebecca, the winner of the James Bayer Memorial Scholarship in 2013, competed for five seasons as a champion high jumper on the track and field team. She went on to complete her medical degree and is now a medical resident in Ontario.
Victoria changed her mind last year on becoming a doctor, at least for now, but still has her eye on the medical field.
"So, I picked up engineering," she said this week. "I took physics last year and I loved the class, which I know sounds so nerdy. I had a girl on my team who was in engineering who kept going on and on about how much she loved it. I talked to the Dean of Science and he let me know it would be a possibility to do both at the same time and combine them. Luckily, a couple of the classes work for both."
There are no engineers in the family. Rebecca is the only doctor.
"I just really like numbers," she said. "I really like the medical field. I'm hoping to do something with biomedical engineering. That could be braces or prosthetics – that kind of thing. It would be still in the health field but not the route of a doctor."
Haworth, a six-foot middle blocker, earned AUS player of the week for the week of Jan. 22 for her outstanding play in a three-match sweep of the Memorial Sea-Hawks in St. John's.
She had eight kills, three service aces and a couple digs in a 3-0 win last Sunday against Moncton as the Tigers improved their record to 16-0. They have used superior depth to win 48 sets while losing only two and haven't lost a single set in a 7-0 run to start the second semester.
Haworth leads the conference in aces with 28. She is fourth in blocks per set and sixth in points per set.
'Team sport girl'
Unlike her sister, Haworth wasn't drawn to track and field.
"I'm more of a team sport girl," she said. "I played hockey when I was younger. I played ringette, soccer and field hockey. I did every sport I could in high school, which kind of prepared for going to university and playing a sport. I learned how to manage my time going from practice to practice and trying to do school work."
You won't hear Haworth moan about the requirements of her life. It takes some prodding just to get her to think about it.
"Honestly, I don't really know anything different," she said. "I don't know what it's like not to play sports. For me, it's not tough. I've grown up doing it so I've gotten used to it.
"It's definitely hard. I've given up a lot of my social life. I'm lucky I found a few close friends in first year who weren't athletes who definitely understand what I'm going through. And then I have my athlete friends and my teammates and they all understand. … I definitely don't think I'm sacrificing anything to play the sport I love and to go to school."
Having a sister pass through Dalhousie as a student and athlete affected her choice when it came time to pick a school. But the decision might have made much earlier.
"Ever since I was younger, though, I remember going to morning hockey practices at the old Dalhousie arena and I remember making my dad drive me around campus every single time. I don't know why. I fell in love with the campus at a young age and decided it was the one. Luckily, I met Rick playing under-16 volleyball and he liked me, which always helps."
She played her high school volleyball at Lockview and played in a provincial championship final. Giving back
One of her Team Nova Scotia teammates was current Dalhousie player Courtney Baker.
When she was younger, she looked up to the university players. She imagined being there herself, but never imagined what it would feel like.
"It's awesome to see all these younger girls and younger guys come to the games and want to come talk to us after. I'm actually an assistant coach with the under-18 Tigers youth team, so I'm giving back a bit to all those people who gave to me. It's awesome to see all the younger people and their drive to want to come and play university sport."
Scott relies on the leadership of Haworth, Baker and fifth-year senior Mieke DuMont. He believes in multiple layers of leadership within the team.
"That being said, Tori is providing some excellent leadership and now, in her fourth year, provides a great deal of leadership for the team along with Mieke and Courtney," he said. "It has been great to see her mature and blossom as a leader and someone that can be counted on and serves as a positive role model both on and off the court."
The Tigers have turned over an entire roster during a six-year AUS championship run and are the favourites again this year. They are ranked second in the country. The nationals are in mid-March in Edmonton.
"Every year we are definitely hoping to win that gold medal at U Sport. That's our end goal. But I think this year especially the AUS has gotten so much better. Our conference is developing all together and that's allowing us to be pushed by these teams. Hopefully, that will allow us to compete at a higher level (at nationals)."
Expect to see Haworth for a fifth year in a Dalhousie uniform next year. Her degree requirements will keep her on campus for a few more years.
(Monty Mosher is an award-winning sports reporter with more than 30 years covering university sport in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)