|Tammy Mahon celebrates a point during the Women's Continental Volleyball Championships. Mahon has retired from the Canadian national team after 10 years. (QMI Files)
WINNIPEG - Tammy Mahon is ready to pass the torch.
After a decade with Canada’s national women’s volleyball team, the Holland, Man., product is retiring from the program.
Mahon played her final match last month at the NORCECA Olympic qualifier as Canada fell to the Dominican Republic in the semifinal.
“The last six months have been full of lasts for me,” Mahon said Saturday morning. “It’s been a real reflective period for me and it’s been fun to take a trip down memory lane. I never took a year for granted, I never took one Team Canada uniform for granted. I’ve always counted myself blessed and lucky to have done what I was doing.
“I’ll miss the girls the most. Logistically, it’s the right move for me and the right move for the program. This younger generation has to come up and do their thing.”
Mahon, 31, was a multi-sport athlete at Treherne Collegiate in high school, excelling in volleyball, track and field and basketball, as she was the ‘A’ girls basketball player of the year in 1998.
Her decision to enroll at the University of Manitoba and play for Ken Bentley’s volleyball team was a wise one.
Mahon spent two summers with the junior national team before making the jump to the national team in 2002, spending the bulk of her first five seasons coming off the bench before cracking the starting lineup.
“There were years that I struggled and I wasn’t sure how I could impact the program and really make a difference,” said Mahon. “I stuck it out and 10 years later, I think I am happy to retire. I loved every minute of it and I’m ready to move on.”
Mahon was named captain in 2008, a responsibility she took great pride in.
“I had great leaders who came before me and I was ready to embrace that role,” said Mahon. “I was always a very vocal player, so that wasn’t hard for me. I know it’s just a bar on the jersey but it meant a lot to me. It’s an honour to put the jersey on, but to be captain was just huge for me.”
Although missing out on the Olympics for a third time was heartbreaking, a discussion with former national women’s coach Mike Burchuck helped put that in perspective.
“Mike told me, I’ve been to the Olympics and they’re great but some players make it and some players don’t. The things you’ve learned, the things you’ve done, the way you’ve trained, that’s the Olympics. And that’s true. The Olympics are the ultimate for an amateur athlete but those other things are sweet moments too. The small victories you have on the path.”
Mahon isn’t entirely sure what the future will bring — she hasn’t ruled out going overseas to play professionally this fall — but she expects volleyball to remain part of her life and hasn’t ruled out coaching at some point down the road.
“Lots of people ask me about (coaching) and I’m not opposed to it, but I think I would make a better assistant coach,” said Mahon. “I want to stay involved. I feel indebted to the sport and to the province of Manitoba, for the support everyone has given me over the last 10 years. I definitely want to give back as much as they’ve given me.”