By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Michelle Sawatzky-Koop | Athlete – Volleyball
Michelle Sawatzky-Koop was born in Steinbach, Manitoba in 1970. While attending Steinbach Regional Secondary School, she really started to excel as an athlete, winning the Athlete of the Year award in her senior year.
After graduating in 1988, Michelle committed to playing volleyball for the University of Manitoba Bisons, where she instantly became their starting setter. She played there for five years until she graduated in 1993.
In 1989, during her second season with the Bisons, Michelle also got the opportunity to represent Manitoba at the Canada Summer Games. There, she led her team to a bronze medal as the starting setter.
The following year, she got her first taste playing for the national team on the “B” squad and eventually, through hard work and determination, she was a member of the Senior Women’s National Team from 1993 to 1996.
As the starting setter, she helped lead the team to a bronze medal at the 1995 Pan Am Games and then helped Canada qualify for the 1996 Olympics.
At the Olympics, the team lost its first four matches with Michelle relegated to the bench for much of the round-robin. With the team now out of contention for a medal, Michelle was thrust back into a starting role for the final round-robin game against Peru.
During this match, she showed her quality, leading Canada to a 3-2 set win – the very first win at the Olympics in women’s volleyball.
After retiring from the national team, Michelle continues to work in volleyball, coaching at Steinbach. Her accomplishments in the sport have made her an obvious choice to be inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
Find more info on the other nominees and the induction ceremony here.