Skip to content

Hapnot volleyball star Neill makes school history, signing with U of M Bisons

Hapnot Collegiate student Addie Neill will be taking the next step on the volleyball court next season, one no other Hapnot student has ever made - onto a USports volleyball team.

Hapnot Collegiate student Addie Neill will be taking the next step on the volleyball court next season, one no other Hapnot student has ever made - onto a USports volleyball team.

After years of hard work and dedication, Neill has committed to play next season for the Univ. of Manitoba Bisons women’s volleyball team. Neill’s commitment was officially announced by the U of M April 18 - she signed her national letter of intent to play for the school at Hapnot Collegiate April 22.

In doing so, Neill made Hapnot history. Ex-Kings and Kweens have committed to play for USports programs in the past in other sports and volleyball players have joined teams for smaller colleges and leagues, but before Neill, none have ever joined Canada’s top league for university volleyball.

During her time at Hapnot, Neill threw a lot of time and effort into pursuing a path in USports, practicing on her own time for hours with friends, family and coaches, independent of her own teams’ practice schedule. She made and sent highlight reels of her play to top-level coaches and volleyball programs through Canada, dating back to when she was in Grade 10. She started correspondence with different coaches and did all of that while maintaining both on-court excellence and high grades in the classroom.

Neill also began playing for regional representative volleyball teams on top of playing for the Kweens - she just finished a tournament in Saskatoon last weekend, where her team finished third at a provincial-level event.

Her journey took time, effort and hundreds of hours on the court - but in signing the letter, Neill made it all pay off.

“I feel like I put so much work into everything, all my summers spent on volleyball, making my mom go out and do club seasons and stuff… it’s finally paid off,” she said.

“I was trying to get to a USports school, but I didn’t know if I could do it.”

Neill said she watched high-level volleyball players online and learned from their play, spending hours watching online videos of the game.

“I watched a lot of university and Division I volleyball - there were liberos who stuck out to me and who I wanted to be like,” she said.

“I watched a lot - especially during COVID-19, when I was in Grades 8 and 9.”

On court with Hapnot, Neill won Zone 11 volleyball titles with the varsity Kweens and reached the provincial final with the team in 2022, losing narrowly in the final to the Major Pratt Trojans from Russell.

With the senior Kweens, Neill’s coaches have been Mackenzie Bortis and Craig McIntosh. McIntosh said Neill’s skill, drive and determination are the biggest reasons she’s gotten the chance with the Bisons.

“It’s been fantastic coaching her,” said the coach.

“Her passion for the game has just been unparalleled. There might be a small number of athletes that have had that sort of compassion here, that determination and passion for the game. When you’re asking your mom to come in on weekends for two or three hours, when you’re giving me a text asking if we could go to the gym and do reps for two or three hours, it’s rare. Not a lot of athletes will do that and that’s necessary.”

“She doesn’t need to be vocal to have other students realize and watch her,” said Bortis.

While she played all over the court for the Kweens - including power at the net, no easy task for the 5-foot-4 Neill but one she still played admirably in - Neill will play the role of libero for the Bisons next year. The libero is usually a defensive player, not allowed to serve or move to the front near the net. She played that spot with club teams, but not with the Kweens.

“She realized that to play at the next level, she wasn’t going to be hitting. She didn’t play as libero in high school for four years - she played as a position player. She played power, then she had to make that transition to libero for club. It’s not easy,” said McIntosh.

The coaches both say that Neill’s example could help pave the way for future talents from Hapnot to move forward in the sports they play.

“I think she’s a good example for our younger athletes. I know we have a dedicated group coming up and it’s good for them to be able to follow in Addie’s footsteps and recruitment. I think seeing someone from small town Flin Flon get recognized and committed to USports will make these other athletes as dedicated, as eager to try and pursue their careers,” said Bortis.

“It’s the extra hours that she put in that makes her so well deserving for this commitment.”

“Volleyball has been strong for girls here for a long time, but then the girls get to Grade 11 and Grade 12 and a lot think, ‘What do I do now?’ Now they have someone, an example, someone who’s taking the next step. A girl can now say, ‘I’m five-foot-four or five-foot-five, I’m not going to give up because there’s a chance I can make university too.' I think it’s inspiring a lot of young girls, including my daughter, to put the time and the effort in,” said McIntosh.

“That’s time on your own. There’s a very small group who did that, it’s a very special group. Addie knew she had to put in those 10,000 reps and she decided she was actually going to do that. Not many do.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks