Angelena Dolezar, 36
- Interviewed Winter 2022
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself.
A: I grew up in St. Albert, AB and currently live in Edmonton. I’m a 2x Paralympic athlete for Team Canada Women’s sitting volleyball and have been playing sitting volleyball since 2015. I’m a teacher here in Edmonton and I’ve been teaching since 2012.
I’ve been an amputee since the summer of 2013 and am the first patient in AB to get Osseointegration here in Edmonton at the University of Alberta hospital. I have a cat named Arthur and a puppy named Wolfgang, I really like snowboarding and going to music festivals. I grew up playing soccer from age 5 until the summer of my accident at age 28.
Q: How did you get involved with sit volleyball?
A: I became involved in sitting volleyball through a local Edmonton volleyball coach that passed on my name to the sitting volleyball program. If other athletes are considering sitting volleyball, reach out to Volleyball Canada! When I attended my first sitting volleyball training camp, I was surprised at how much I loved (and missed) the team dynamic and knew I wanted to become the best sitting volleyball athlete I could possibly become.
Q: How did that involvement lead to your inclusion on the Canadian Paralympic team?
A: I started playing sitting volleyball with the National Program in 2015 and was named to the 2016 Rio roster. During the Rio Games, I was injured, suffered a concussion and didn’t compete in any matches during the games. After that competition experience, I was determined to earn a spot on the starting lineup to ensure that I would compete in future international competition.
Q: What was the preparation and buildup to the Tokyo Paralympics like?
A: In the summer of 2019, our team went to Lima for the 2019 Parapan American Games, where we were battling our zonal rivals, Brazil for the qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. We battled but it was a hard loss and we did not earn the qualification to the Tokyo Games. This began our training for the wildcard last chance qualification for the Tokyo Games Feb 2020. The last chance qualifier was hosted in Halifax and our team won gold, securing our qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Then Covid happened and whether or not the Games would happen, was uncertain. Our training here in Canada was halted and we had to be extremely creative training at home, training against walls and attending virtual training camps until facilities opened again. The postponement of the Tokyo Games was unfortunate but for me was exciting for the additional year to train and prepare.
Q: What were some of your most memorable things about the Games themselves and your participation in them?
A: During the games, locals were very supportive of us, Team Canada, and that was extremely touching, being so far from home and without any family or fans to support us. My favourite memory of Tokyo was playing and winning against Team Italy. We needed to win to move on in the tournament and it was surreal to secure the semifinal. Although, in our final we lost to Brazil, we were able to place 4th in the 2020 Paralympic Games. We are now training to medal in the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I am dedicated to helping the expansion of The National Women’s sitting volleyball program. We are hoping to transition into a full-time training program. We are always wanting to scout for new Paralympic hopeful athletes and are working towards growing sitting volleyball in Canada. I am working towards becoming a 3x Paralympic athlete.
Q: What advice can you give to aspiring para-athletes?
A: Speaking from experience, my transition to adapted/para-sport has been challenging. My advice to aspiring para-athletes would be to put yourself out there; go out on a whim/limb ;) Try any and all adapted sports. Contact National Programs for sports you’re interested in. Train to be the best in Canada! It’s never too late to work on training to represent your country, family and friends.