NAME: Erminia Russo
UNIVERSITY: British Columbia
SPORT: Women's volleyball
Eight-year Canadian national team member
Canadian Olympian (1996)
CW & CIAU Coach of the Year (1998)
Erminia Russo, a talented multi-sport athlete, found success in everything she touched. Russo played volleyball for three years at the University of British Columbia, instantly boosting the school’s profile in the sport before returning years later to complete her legacy.
Russo was considered the top volleyball recruit in British Columbia, but was also a star in basketball and track and field. Nicknamed “The Machine,” Russo was a menacing offensive threat with the versatility to play all three positions. In her first year as a Thunderbird, Russo cracked the starting line-up and led a youthful team to a Canada West silver.
Her leadership abilities were evident early on, as coaches awed over her poise and winning attitude. Russo was named to the conference’s top all-star team in her rookie season then became the first UBC women’s volleyball player to twice earn all-Canadian honours.
Russo traded her blue and gold for red and white as she donned the national team jersey for eight years. That span included a trip to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
"Erminia was strong in all aspects of the game, she played both the front and back really well. Her blocking was great – blocking being the most difficult
skill to learn. She is one of the best I've seen,
not just coached, but seen," said Sandy Silver, Russo's coach at UBC.
Her winning ways followed her into a coaching role as she assumed the position of head coach at UBC in 1997. Just one season later, she guided the team to the title of Canada West champions. Russo was named the CW and CIAU Coach of the Year before she added “Outstanding Young Alumnus” to her resumé. That award is given out annually to the UBC graduate under 40 whose endeavours have brought the most honour to the school.