Langley pair pumped after getting call for Canada

Langley’s Tessa Popoff and Danielle Ellis nominated to play for women’s sitting
volleyball team at Rio Paralympic Games

One woman just started the sport two years ago while the other thought she was done with the game for good.

But both Langley women — Tessa Popoff and Danielle Ellis — have been nominated to attend the Rio Paralympic Games in September.

The pair were among the dozen women nominated by Volleyball Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee on Friday (July 8) to represent Canada in sitting volleyball.

The Paralympic Games run Sept. 7 to 18.

Both women were born in White Rock, grew up in Surrey, and now call Langley home.

The 24-year-old Ellis lost her right leg below the knee due to cancer when she was a child.

She was on the national team from 2008 to 2012, but after Canada failed to qualify for the 2012 Games in London, she turned her focus elsewhere.

“I had quit school and quit my job to make it to London in 2012, so when we didn’t, I just decided to start moving on,” she explained.

She was invited to try out for the national team last spring as Canada readied for the Parapan American Games in Toronto.

They needed a third-place or better finish to qualify for Rio.

But Ellis was just finishing her schooling — she is trained as a paramedic and currently works as a dispatcher for B.C. Ambulance — and could not make the competition.

Canada qualified by winning the bronze.

And Ellis was invited to tryout for the national team once again this past spring, landing one of the dozen roster spots.

“It feels great to have this amazing second opportunity, which I never thought I would have again,” she said.

“You don’t think when you get older — and 24 is not old by any means — you don’t think you will have the ability to go out and do these things.”

“It feels pretty good to be back.”

Popoff, who turns 31 on Friday (July 15), just took up sitting volleyball in 2014.

She was on the Canadian side which won bronze at last year’s Parapan American Games.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our sport, to prove to the world and to children that even with a disability, we can overcome challenges and come up with these opportunities where we get to represent our country,” she said.

“We get to wear the flag on our shirt and compete with some of the best in the world.”

A car accident when she was 18 resulted in her right arm amputated below the elbow.

She now owns and operates the Learning Circle, a childcare centre in Langley.

“It was always a dream but it is one of those things you never know if it is actually ever going to happen. And look now here we are.

“It is time to step up and represent,” Popoff said.

 

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