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Track or volleyball? Shadd-Ceres says right now her options are wide open

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Trinity Shadd-Ceres is one of Canada's top young track and field athletes, and arguably one of Team Ontario's busiest at the Canada Summer Games.

But track is only half of the 15-year-old's athletic repertoire. While one of her goals is to eventually own the Canadian long jump record, she's also an accomplished volleyball player who dreams of one day playing for Canada at the Olympics.

"Right now my options are open," she said. "I'm leaning more towards volleyball and doing track as my off-season (sport) because it's really good cross-training, track helps volleyball."

Shadd-Ceres captured three gold medals in a spectacular OFSAA (Ontario high school) debut in June, winning the 100 metres, 200 and long jump.

She's competing in the long jump, 100 and 4x100 relay for Ontario at the Canada Games in southern Ontario's Niagara Region, where track and field is one of the highlights of Week 2.

Shadd-Ceres originally hoped to play volleyball at the Games, but chose to focus on track this summer in hopes of competing at the recent world U20 championships in Cali, Colombia. She eventually was told she was too young for that team.

Her personal-best long jump of 6.35 metres at the Ontario Canada Games trials would have placed her fifth at the U20 worlds.

The Canadian U20 record is 6.52 set 20 years ago by Krysha Bayley. Christabel Nettey's Canadian senior record is 6.99.

Despite her excellent results on the track, Shadd-Ceres said her heart is truly in volleyball.

"It's a team sport," she said. "You have to do your part of it, but there's less pressure I guess. I'm very much like an overthinker and a perfectionist at track. If I mess up once, it's just on myself. When I mess up in volleyball, like it's my fault, but it's not like all the pressure's just on me."

In volleyball, there are "so many opportunities" in a game to make up for a missed play.

Shadd-Ceres grew up in a family of athletes. Her mom Crystal Shadd was a two-sport NCAA athlete in track and volleyball, specializing in triple jump. Her uncle Kenen Shadd was also an NCAA triple jumper.

"My mom is actually very supportive. She doesn't care what sport I do. She just wants me to be happy," Shadd-Ceres said.

She's definitely happy to be back competing in both sports after two years of lockdowns and cancellations around the COVID-19 pandemic. Shadd-Ceres, who took up both track and volleyball when she was 10, said she spent part of lockdowns training in her family's small home gym.

"My mom was a professional athlete so she knows what she's doing training-wise, so I would get my workouts from her. Volleyball I would go to the park and my work on my passing or my hitting. Track, when we actually were allowed to practise, were practising in fields."

COVID-19 forced the postponement of the Canada Summer Games by a year.

While the age eligibility differs from sport to sport at the Canada Games, it's under-25 on Dec. 31 of 2022 for track and field. Athletes also can't have competed for a senior national team or at a major international competition such as a world championship.

Despite her young age, Shadd-Ceres was the top qualifier in the women's long jump on Tuesday at Canada Games Park at Brock University. Her jump of 6.10 metres was just shy of the Canada Games record of 6.19 set by Sandra Latrace in 2017. 

She was fifth fastest in 100-metre qualifying, despite having done almost no sprint training recently due to a nagging Achilles injury. The women's 100 final is Friday, and the long jump final is Saturday.

The Canada Summer Games boasts a who-who's of track and field alumni. Olympic champion sprinters Bruny Surin and Andre De Grasse and Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist Brianne Theisen-Eaton are among athletes who competed at the Games.

Canada's women's volleyball team, meanwhile, hasn't qualified for the Olympics since 1996 in Atlanta. Shadd-Ceres, who plays left-side hitter for the Kitchener-Waterloo Predators Volleyball Club and coach Paul Pavan — dad of world beach volleyball champion Sarah Pavan — said she's confident that with the level of talent in young women her age, that will change.

"There's actually a lot of talented up and coming athletes in volleyball, track, any sport literally."

The Canada Games run through Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press