Julie Kozun competes internationally with the Canadian sitting volleyball team. SASWP

U of S student finds a niche with sitting volleyball

Julie Kozun has built a nice little collection of legs. She’s eyeing up a few more with interest.

Kozun, an 18-year-old agro-business student at the University of Saskatchewan, lost her left leg below the knee in a lawn-mower accident three years ago at age 15. The 2020 Paralympics hopeful — she’s a sitting volleyball player — has become a prosthetic-leg connoisseur, of sorts. 

“I want another one,” said Kozun in a recent interview with The StarPhoenix. “Either the Challenger foot, which has a really big spring thing, or I want one where the foot can extend, for swimming faster. I don’t know which one I want yet.

“You look at all the girls’ legs on my volleyball team, and on the men’s team — you’re looking at their legs, and you kind of pick what you want. My one teammate has a full-out running leg, and it’s pretty cool. I might think about it one day, maybe.”

Kozun’s four prosthetics include a volleyball leg, which she also uses for most day-to-day activities, along with an everyday walking leg, a leg that looks real — “my pretty leg,” she calls it — and a waterproof swimming leg she uses in showers and at the lake.

The volleyball leg gets a workout when she plays traditional standing volleyball. Sitting volleyball is played without prosthetics, and looks the way it sounds: Players sit on the floor, propelling themselves around, setting, bumping, spiking. The court is smaller, and the net is lower.

Now she is a carded national team member, eyeing that Paralympics berth two years from now. Kozun travels to Edmonton once a month and trains with the national squad for a week, then heads home again. She competed in China as a 16-year-old, and has been to Montreal and down into Oklahoma, among other places.

“The first time I tried it, it was almost faster, and harder. I liked that about it. It was more of a challenge.”

Read more at The Saskatoon StarPhoenix.