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Ava Pernu: digging Brockport

Photo Credit: Haley Brown

Every athlete with hopes of playing at the collegiate level knows that finding the right fit can be challenging. For Ava Pernu, finding the place to continue her volleyball career had some extra barriers.

Pernu was born in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada. Due to the COVID-19 regulations at the time, crossing the border for a visit was not an option. So, she spent her freshman season at Mount Saint Vincent University located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

“I made a decision based on what I thought was best at the time. It just ended up not being the right fit for me. The coaching staff was not supportive and a lot of the stuff they told me in recruitment wasn’t truthful. So, I started looking at getting recruited again for my sophomore year,” Pernu said.

Pernu knew a change was needed and wanted to make the move to the United States. While she knew Division 1 was not on the table, she examined her Division 2 and 3 options. Pernu managed to find Brockport by fate while at a match between Brockport and Roberts Wesleyan University, who was recruiting her during that time. At the time, head coach Steve Pike was able to close the deal on Pernu committing to Brockport. However, Pike was in a new job before Pernu ever arrived.

“I committed to Brockport because of coach Pike,” said Pernu. “That was the sole reason, there’s obviously other reasons helping with it, but that was the biggest factor for me. Hearing he got promoted and was going to be leaving the position was very upsetting at first. I was confused and second guessing my decision to come. But, in the long run I think it ended up being a smooth transition.

Pike was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director and Compliance Director at Brockport. His former assistant Kate Isaksen would serve as the head coach for the 2022 season. Although Pernu had a smooth transition through the coaching change, her transition into earning a role at Brockport was as bumpy as any part of the journey.

“I came into this season transferring in the fall and our preseason started in August,” Pernu said. “I suffered a concussion in the first week of August about four or five days before I was supposed to come here, and it was major. It was not the best situation, and I wasn’t able to play. For a while I wasn’t even allowed to sit in because the concussion was so major, so it was difficult.”

Heading into the upcoming season, Pernu is healthy and with her third coach in three college seasons as Jim Clar takes over the Brockport program with Isaksen moving back to an assistant coach position. Pernu is looking forward to making her impact felt.

“I’m really hoping for a successful season. I want to help the team as much as I can whether it’s as defensive specialist or as a libero. I’m really excited about this new coaching staff. I think coach Clar is going to take us to where we need to be. Also, coach Kate (Isaksen) is my position coach, so I still get to work closely with her,” Pernu said.

Despite all the barriers and bumps along the road, Pernu enters her junior season ready to finally leave her mark.

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Mike Rose, Sports Editor
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