Fifth-year power hitter Emilie Matte De Grasse grew up already immersed in the sporting world. Her mother was a physical education teacher; her father was a hockey player. Now, Matte de Grasse is in her 13th volleyball season, but before volleyball, she practiced other sports, too.
“I did gymnastics when I was younger, but I quit because I was too tall,” Matte de Grasse said. “Sport has always been around me, though.”
At the start of high school, Matte de Grasse tried out for both the basketball and volleyball teams but, ultimately, decided to stick to volleyball. At that point, she knew that she wanted to play for McGill, especially since her high school assistant coach was coaching at McGill as well. Matte de Grasse was convinced that McGill was where she wanted to be.
“She brought us to the games [and] gave us McGill gear,” Matte de Grasse said. “She had a big influence on how I saw McGill, […] as an awesome place to play.”
Long-time Martlet Head Coach Rachele Béliveau has also played an important part in Matte de Grasse’s volleyball journey.
“Rachele is awesome,” Matte de Grasse said. “If I have nothing to do, I can just go talk to her for hours about volleyball or anything. She’s honestly the best coach I’ve had [….] We know that she believes in us.”
Matte De Grasse has changed how she approaches the game over the years.
“My first year, I was just there to get on the court,” Matte De Grasse said. “[As a] rookie, you don’t expect to play all the time. With the years, you learn to take up more space and talk more, and, this year, I’m just playing to have fun.”
Now in her final year, Matte De Grasse feels that the older members of the team share the leadership responsibilities. Personally, she tries to lead by example.
“You want to show the first-years how to do it,” Matte De Grasse said. “If we have weights to do, I’m not going to force you to come, but I’m going to do it to show that it’s important and that the results show on the court.”
Matte De Grasse has not yet decided on a path after graduation, but she thinks that she’ll stay involved with volleyball in some way; her degree in physical education gives her an avenue to do so.
“I think I’ll try to stay involved with the team as much as possible, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit to coaching a full team yet,” Matte de Grasse said.
Matte De Grasse feels that volleyball has helped her prepare for the real world beyond university. Learning to work with a team and developing a good work ethic are both skills that she has developed in her years on the court. Like many other students nearing the end of their undergraduate careers, however, she still has hesitations.
“I have no clue what I’m doing next year,” Matte De Grasse said. “I’m not sure I’m ready to fully commit to being a grown-up.”
Matte de Grasse will leave a significant legacy behind her when she leaves the Martlets. The power-hitter has been a key offensive player for the Martlets this season: En route to their 8-1 record thus far, she has been the highest-scoring McGill player in six out of nine games, averaging 13.9 points per game. McGill has come up short in the RSEQ semifinals in their last two seasons, but, hopefully, Matte De Grasse can lead her team to a championship season in her finally campaign.