Esther Lim among 18 athletes across the country who will be exposed to high-level training and training at the Olympic Oval this fall
Esther Lim has come a long way since coming to South Delta High School from Pebble Hill Elementary and playing on the 8th grade girls volleyball team.
“I was the only sneaky server on our team. I wasn’t very good,” Lim laughed in a recent interview with The Optimist.
Fast forward to four years later and Lim has been recognized as one of the top school-aged players in the country, as one of 18 athletes named to Volleyball Canada’s National Program of Excellence (NEP). She is one of only three players from British Columbia selected following an extensive evaluation process.
Based at the Richmond Olympic Oval, NEP provides a full-time, daily training environment for Grade 11 and 12 players from September to December 2022. In addition to providing technical and tactical training consistent with the Senior Women’s National Team , NEP will also provide competitive opportunities with local and college programs, strength and conditioning, nutrition education, mental performance and wellness, and ongoing educational support.
“The level of talent across Canada was quite high and these 18 athletes who were selected are exceptional athletes. It’s an exciting time for women’s volleyball in Canada and I can’t wait to start working with the next generation of national team athletes,” said NEP Head Coach Carolyn O’Dwyer.
“This is such an important program for our National Women’s Team in identifying and developing our best talent in Canada at a young age. We’ve been fortunate to return to in-person talent identification for the first time since 2019, and the ability to engage with athletes and coaches from across the country is a huge benefit of this program,” says Shannon Winzer, head coach of the women’s national team.
A difficult decision
Although the Olympic Oval is a short distance from Tsawwassen, the NEP is a full-time commitment and Lim will not return to SDSS until next January to complete his 12th year.
That means the Sun Devils will be without their standout Libero next fall as they aim for a provincial AAAA title after losing a heartbreaker in five sets in the gold medal game last December. Lim admits that missing this opportunity weighed in his decision.
“When I had to make the decision, it was very, very difficult because I knew I had to drop out of high school season,” Lim continued. “I know with the girls (returning) next year it’s going to be an amazing team and I was really, really looking forward to the season. But in the end, I think it was a great opportunity that if I let it pass, I would regret it.
Lim has just completed his club season with the Coquitlam Ducks program and there will be Volleyball Canada activity in July leading up to the launch of the NEP. She established herself as a libero (defensive specialist) after injuring her ankle in the summer of her 9th grade, which limited her jumping ability as an outside hitter. She hasn’t looked back since.
“After my 8th grade season, I didn’t even know club volleyball was a thing back then until my friends introduced it to me. The injury was a blessing in disguise because I’m too small to be an outside hitter at this level,” she laughed. I got to see some of the (NEP) girls at the National (Club) Championships (in Edmonton). They were so amazing that I thought, “Am I really going to play with these guys?”