Dana Cranston’s pedigree looms large near the roof of North Peace Secondary School. Her retired number four sits on a banner above the court, one of five NPSS players to have that honour.
Almost all of the 50 athlete that took took to the floor last weekend acknowledged Cranston’s accomplishments in the sport and played attentively as the former team Canada standout passed along some volleyball tips.
Cranston, 24, was back in Fort St. John after spending the last season training with the national women’s volleyball team and hoped she could pass on a few pointers.
“I’m just taking a lot of the skills I learned from team Canada and university in Colorado and just all through my experience playing pro and bringing it back here. I feel like I learned a lot here from going to North Peace and just growing up in Fort St. John so it’s a huge honour to just be able to give back to the community,” Cranston explained during a break in the action Saturday.
She spent two days with members of the Fort St. John Ice Volleyball Club at her once home court and said coming back home is always a positive experience, one that she hopes that will help develop the next volleyball star in Fort St. John.
“It’s honestly a huge honour I mean, this is where a lot of my dreams started. Even as a kid my parents were playing here and we were just sitting in the corner watching them,” she recalled.
“That’s kind of where all this started for me. So coming back here... it’s really cool because I feel like I was so inspired being here and it’s kind of cool to share that.”
Cranston went on to explain that while this was the first time running a camp in Fort St. John, she had worked with many of the players before and really wanted to emphasize some of the technical aspects of the sport that girls might not be exposed in their day-to-day practice and game routine.
“A huge thing for me is skill development. I feel like just in a secluded area that we live in it’s hard to get really technical skill development,” she said.
“It was hard for me, not that my coaches didn’t give me a lot of things that I’m so thankful for, but just the really technical stuff that I’m trying to cram into their brains…It is a really short camp and I want them to take away that really technical skill development so they can take that to their camps this summer and transfer it into their next season.”
Cranston also talked to the group Saturday about what the future can hold in volleyball for kids from Fort St. John, as well as the opportunities that are out there in general, even beyond sport.
“Another huge thing is the concept of a dream. Figuring out what you really want and the idea that there is hope that you can get it,” she added.
“Really instilling that in them and giving them an opportunity to pursue it here and ask me questions about it. Even if it’s not volleyball— if it’s music or drama or just academically a career that they want. I think it’s so important to address the fact that we are away from the rest of the world up here.
“It’s awesome, I think there are huge benefits from that situation and I just want them to see those benefits and know that reaching a dream like that is very attainable and something that you can get to if you’re committed to.”
Cranston has also decided to hang up her competitive shoes for the time being and said she’ll be moving to Colorado later this summer where she hopes to continue to stay involved with the game however she can.