Two Port Coquitlam-based athletes won't be moving far to play at one of the highest levels of collegiate sports in North America.
Grade 12s Jayden Armstrong and Natalie Curley have committed to hitting the volleyball and basketball courts respectively at Simon Fraser University (SFU) starting in fall 2023.
The Red Leafs play in NCAA Div. II — one step below the top-tier league for U.S. university athletics — and are the only Canadian institution that compete at such a level.
Both Armstrong and Curley have found success with Riverside Secondary in recent years and are hoping to utilize their talents with SFU's programs.
In fact, Armstrong is now looking to add a second consecutive B.C. volleyball title after the Rapids claimed the 2022 Fraser North regional championship on Friday (Nov. 18).
The outside hitter from Coquitlam was named a first-team all-star en route to Riverside's 2021 senior girls AAAA provincial championship, helping her team to an undefeated tournament in Nanaimo.
"I chose SFU because of the amazing volleyball program, fantastic culture and welcoming community," said Armstrong in a news release.
"SFU has the balance of academics and athletics which I value as a student-athlete."
Armstrong is also a member of Team BC and the Tri-Cities-based Ducks Volleyball Club, which SFU head coach Gina Schmidt believes can bring valued experience for a higher level of volleyball.
"Jayden has a lot of family ties to SFU and attended many of our camps growing up," she said.
"We know her very well and couldn't be happier that she chose to join the Red Leaf family. She has the ability to play at either pin and we look forward to utilizing her versatility in the years to come."
Armstrong is set to study kinesiology when off the court at SFU.
The SFU women's volleyball team missed out on the playoffs this past season, but finished fifth out of 10 teams in conference play with a 10-8 record.
Meanwhile, Curley is looking to keep a family legacy going in committing to the Burnaby post-secondary.
Jake Curley, her father, played on the SFU men's basketball team, while her aunt, Jennifer, suited up for the women's team. Curley also currently plays for Paul Langford, whose brother Bruce is set to be her bench boss for the Red Leafs.
"I love the coaching staff, the team, and the style of play here," said Curley.
"The campus is beautiful and close to home. SFU also has one the best criminology programs in the country, which is very important to me."
Curley plays in the post position with her six-foot-two stature, bringing what coach Langford believes will be much-needed size to SFU's campaign next year.
"She has nice touch, giving her good range on her shot, and a growing post game that will make her presence felt in the key. Her potential is immense."
Curley settled for silver with Riverside at last year's B.C. AAAA senior girls basketball championships after falling to crosstown-rival Terry Fox Secondary in the final.
The SFU women's basketball team is heading to Idaho next weekend for a tune-up tournament before officially starting its regular season Dec. 3.