Whether or not you’ve seen a women’s volleyball game this season, if you’ve walked through the Kinesiology building, you probably know Janet Bang. You may not know her by name, but her smiling visage adorns the information pillar in the Kinesiology courtyard. (Basketball’s Chris Harris is on the other side.)
At last Thursday’s Night of the Dino, Bang received the Gauntlet Extra Effort Award. In her fourth year with the University of Calgary’s women’s volleyball team, Bang stepped up to become the team’s leader on the court and off. With a new coach and three rookie starters, the Dinos were definitely in the rebuilding process. After fifth-year veteran Agata Woloszyn left the team halfway through the season, Bang became the most experienced player on the team.
"I’m not used to it," Bang said in January. "On most of the teams I’ve been on, I’ve been the youngest."
Bang started playing volleyball while attending William Aberhart High School. Having been a dancer for 14 years, Bang already had the necessary athletic ability, but chose volleyball because of the challenges it presented.
"I loved (volleyball)," she says. "Being a team sport was a big selling point."
When she graduated high school, Bang (then known as Janet Pauls) was only 17, and her youth cost her a spot on the team in her first year of university.
"It was a heartbreak, because I was led to believe that I had a good chance," she recalls. "I was lucky enough that I had a year of juvenile left."
Bang took that year to improve her skills and lead her club team. The improvement resulted in recruitment offers from the U of C, the University of British Columbia and the University of Winnipeg.
"I wanted to stay at home and play for the U of C," she explains. "And I was already in my university program."
Last summer, Janet got her new last name when she married former Dinos volleyball player Dana Bang. Next year, she will graduate with a joint degree in Kinesiology and Education. After that, there are a number of roads she could take.
"If I was approached by the national team, I would definitely go for it. If I knew I could pursue a career in Europe, I would go for it."
This season, Bang didn’t quite achieve the goals she set for herself at the beginning of the year, and the Gauntlet award offered some consolation.
"I was so honoured," she says. "It was kind of nice as a fourth-year, because I didn’t achieve all the things I wanted. I wanted to be a Canada West all-star this year. It feels good that my hard work as a team leader got recognition"