Virden’s Danika Scharff is looking forward to many aspects of the next step in her volleyball career.
The daughter of Chad and Rita Scharff has committed to study and play at the University of Winnipeg, which competes at the U Sports level – the highest for Canadian universities. The Grade 12 Virden Collegiate Institute setter believes it will be a great fit playing for Wesmen women’s volleyball head coach Phil Hudson. When asked what excited her about playing at the U of W, Scharff said:
“The atmosphere, the level of competitiveness, and the amount of opportunity it gives me to grow. I have gotten a chance to practice with the team a few weeks ago and they were a great group of girls. The coaches were amazing, and it made me fall in love with volleyball again - just how fun and high intense the practice was, which I am over the moon excited for that to be my new team.
“Phil is an amazing setter coach. He was a setter, his kids were setters, and it makes me so excited that I have the opportunity to be coached and grow as a player with Phil.”
Other U Sports school squads expressed interest in Scharff, but she felt the University of Winnipeg would be the right place for her.
“Obviously Winnipeg being so close to home is a big plus, but again the fact that Phil is such a great coach. I’ve heard so many good things about him, especially with setters being that he was a setter and his kids were setters, and setters on this team have thrived under him before and that was 100 per cent the biggest reason Winnipeg was where I needed to go.”
Hudson is pleased to add the 5-foot-10 athlete, who is a proven winner with VCI and the Club West Rage.
"Danika's experience playing on successful high school, club and provincial team programs will allow her to transition to U Sports with ease," Hudson stated on the Wesmen website. "Her high school and club coaches have developed a very skilled setter with excellent placement and deception.
"She is an excellent athlete, has a tremendous work ethic and is driven to be her best in all aspects of her life. She is a welcome addition to the Wesmen program."
Scharff, who plans to study political science and hopes to become a lawyer, praises her family for how they have helped get to this point.
“My family has supported me in ways I couldn’t imagine them to do so - the money, the driving, the amount of work they put in themselves. My highlight video, for example, my dad stayed up one night until 2 a.m, putting all the clips together and he even started a YouTube channel for my team, video taping all of our games and posting them for everyone.
“My mom isn’t a big sports fan as most people would know,” Scharff joked, “but she is one of my biggest fans and would arguably be the loudest one at any of my games. My mom and I both cried the day I committed on Zoom with Phil and it just was such a relief that all of our hard work had paid off.”
VCI girls volleyball head coach Curtis Plett and Club West Rage head coach Steve Densmore praised Scharff for her hard work on and off the court.
“She is the definition of ‘hard work beats talent any day’ and has become the ‘hard working talented player,’” Plett said. “She has put in countless hours in off the court working on her craft as a setter and becoming an elite player. This included Wednesday morning setting practices at 7 a.m. since Grade 9.”
After playing a reserve role on the junior varsity team in Grade 9, Scharff’s hard work allowed her to develop into an important cog and a leader – eventually becoming a captain. When VCI won the AAA JV crown in 2018, Scharff was a provincial all-star. She helped Club West finish second at the 16U provincials. Scharff also played for Team Manitoba at the 2019 Canada Cup in Halifax and was an alternate for the provincial team for the Western Canada Summer Games that year. Last December Scharff was named to the Winnipeg Sun’s prestigious High School Girls Top 10 Volleyball Players list. The article stated she “makes great decisions with ball distribution within the offensive system; great leader.”
Scharff appreciates the time and effort Densmore and Plett have put into her development.
“Every team I’ve been on, except the provincial team, one of them have been my coach each season and they have shaped me into the volleyball player I am today,” she said. “The early morning practices, the one-on-one conversations, everything they’ve done, I can’t put into words how much I appreciate them.”
As well as her athletic ability, Scharff’s personality and mental approach allows her to succeed. Plett said, “She plays at an even keel, keeps her emotions in check and knows how to manage the game to her team’s strengths.”
“Danika is a strong competitor,” Densmore said. “Works hard on and off the court. She is a strong setter who is mentally and physically in control of the game. Makes great decisions at the correct time. When you need a point, she comes up with a way to get one. Also, a strong blocker who loves all aspects of the game. A player who you can build a team around. Awesome girl to coach.”