By Larry Moko
When Isabella Tehrani of St. Jean de Brebeuf recently agreed to accept an athletic scholarship from the University of Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish’s volleyball coach reacted favorably on the NCAA Division 1 school’s website.
“She is a high-energy, physical, middle blocker that plays with passion and intensity,” Salima Rockwell stated of the new recruit from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association. “Bella is one of those players that people are drawn to and we are counting the days until she arrives.”
Tehrani is currently a Grade 11 student. However, with her mid 90s average she expects to graduate a year early and head to Notre Dame’s Indiana campus in June.
“I was able to get seven courses ahead which allowed me to graduate early,” she said. “When I spoke to Notre Dame I was originally going to go after my Grade 12 year but they said they needed someone earlier. So I said I’d love to come.”
A 6-foot-3 presence at the net with fast footwork and quick reflexes, Tehrani received her elite-level training from Volleyball Canada’s National Excellence Program. She attended those sessions as a member of the 18U Canadian national team from September to December last year in Richmond, B.C.
Tehrani also represented Brebeuf on the floor this season and helped her club team – Halton Hurricanes – win an OVA Tier 1 17U championship.
“I think it’s fantastic for her,” Braves coach Jennifer Saltarelli said of the scholarship. “I think she’ll do really well and make an impact. She’s worked hard to get there. She deserves it.”
Volleyball isn’t the only sport that Tehrani has excelled at. While attending St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School in Grade 9, she played for the Knights’ OFSAA gold-medal-winning girls’ basketball team.
For 12 years she took part in school, club and provincial-level basketball. Tehrani was a starter for Ontario’s 2018 Ontario Summer Games basketball team (gold medal) and later got selected to play with Canada Basketball’s U16 U17High Performance Program.
“I used to be primarily focused on playing basketball,” she said. “Volleyball was my second sport.”
Ultimately a choice had to be made. In order to pursue volleyball she declined her selection to the 17U Canadian women’s national basketball squad.
“I loved both but I really liked the team aspect of volleyball. There was something different about it. In volleyball, I felt you really depend on each other. It really brought everyone together. You need the pass and the set so you can hit and score. It felt like a true family working together. That’s why I chose volleyball.”
According to Tehrani, the basketball background has allowed further development of her volleyball IQ.
“In the future, I’m hoping to play for our national team,” she said. “I want to continue on that path and have the opportunity to represent Canada at the Olympics.”
As for education, she said: “I’m going into pre-med. I hope to become a doctor. I want to go to medical school after Notre Dame. I really want to help people. My uncle is head of orthopedic surgery at St. Joe’s and I’ve always looked up to him. He kind of inspired me.”
Tehrani says she received scholarship interest from other DI teams but feels very comfortable with the Fighting Irish coaching staff. She calls Notre Dame a “fantastic institution” and is excited to get the ball rolling.