by Kirk Jessome
As a member of the Dalhousie Tigers, Marisa Mota’s name will forever be attached to a piece of history. Mota was a member of the Dalhousie women’s volleyball team that was able to claim five consecutive AUS conference titles, and now in her first year after graduation, Mota has signed a professional contract with Eurosped of the Netherlands Women’s Volleyball League.
In her five seasons as a Tiger, Mota proved herself to be an elite defensive player at one of the toughest positions in the sport, libero. Mota saw her role expand greatly in her years as a Tiger, and both she and the team reaped the rewards.
In her final two seasons, Mota was a presence at the national level, finishing in the top five in both total digs, and digs per set. As a team, the Tigers were nothing short of dominant in the years that Mota was on the roster, compiling a 71-10 record and five conference championships, something that hasn’t been done in the AUS since 1960.
Mota admits that those historic seasons were not always a cakewalk for her, and she credits the tribulations during those times with helping her make the transition to the professional level. Having only three days to make a decision on signing, saying goodbyes and packing your bags would be terrifying for anyone, but her academic, personal, and athletic experiences as a Tiger prepared Mota for almost anything.
“Although I sometimes hated the obstacles I was faced with while being at Dal,” says Mota, “I genuinely don’t think I would have been able to make the right decision to play out here in the Netherlands without having gone through all the things I did while at Dalhousie.”
Mota has moved to a small village of only 8,000 residents in the Netherlands to play for team Eurosped in the Netherlands Women’s Volleyball League. She is joining a team that is already halfway through their season, but Mota says that the people around her have made the transition easier on her.
“The girls I play with, coaches, sponsors, and supporters have all been very welcoming to me,” explains Mota. “On top of that, my former Tiger teammate Desiree Nouwen lives in a town nearby, so it’s like a little piece of home in the Netherlands.”
Mota is working on adjusting to the increased speed of the professional game, and hopes to use the new skills she has acquired to crack the roster for the Canadian national team after the season is over.
After facing hard times like being cut from provincial and national teams, as well as having her first professional contract fall through, it has become important to Mota to share her story with current and future athletes who want to get to the next level.
“The truth is that I struggled, many people I know who are playing or have played professionally have struggled throughout their careers,” continued Mota. “So if you are struggling, stick with it, and work hard to overcome whatever obstacle is thrown your way. Use your support system, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.”