Plenty of new faces on volleyball squad
Coach still feels national championship in the cards
by Bryce Forbes
It was common for high roster turnover on Mount Royal sport’s teams.
With Canada West on the horizon, Shawn Sky hopes he never has to deal with it again.
His men’s volleyball squad features eight new faces on his 15-man squad, the men’s volleyball coach said he should be dealing with a smaller intake now.
“That’s the point with us building towards Canada West, we need those (new players),” he said. “There is a lot of room for growth, but that’s the reality.”
It’s a situation Sky’s gotten used to in his tenure since MRU has typically been a transfer school for athletes moving onto bigger and better.
“This is my eighth year with the Cougars and all eight years we’ve had seven, eight, sometimes 11 first-years and so we are quite used to it,” Sky said. “The nice thing about it is that we have been very successful doing it this way with a 50 per cent turnover every single year. What I’m really excited about is in the future years when it’s not.
“This will be our last intake for a long time that is that big.”
With eight new guys on the roster, creating solid team chemistry can be tricky. To combat it, Sky and Sandra Lamb, the women’s volleyball coach, took their teams out to the Kananaskis for two days of team building.
“One time, I think on the way there, somebody did something wrong, so they had to get out of their van and we had to run up this giant hill,” said team captain Dan Durham. “So everyone took their shirts off and ran up the hill, we just had a good time.”
The trip included hiking and leadership challenges.
Sky added: “The Rockies are so close to us, why not expose them to it? When you have a person from Canbarra, Australia or somebody from Calais, France, let’s expose them to the beauty Alberta has.”
One of the international players Sky alluded to is Grigor Kartev.
You’ve likely seen him around the halls. The 7-foot-1 French giant will eventually play middle for the Cougars.
Unfortunately, he won’t be on the floor this semester.
Sky explained that international students who don’t speak English as a first language have to pass the TOEFL test, proving they are proficient at English.
“It is an academic thing, but it isn’t an academic thing where he needs to score high enough on his English language tests,” Sky said. “So far, he is doing a great job there and as long as he gets to the standard, he’ll be eligible for the second semester.”
The test isn’t simply pass or fail, Sky said Kartev must score over 83 per cent.
“This isn’t to disrespect any of the student body… I’d hazard 10 to 20 per cent of our student body would have difficulty with that right now because a lot of it is based on verb tense, grammar, all of those things,” he said.
Even with a half-new roster, as well as implementing a new system, Sky believes the Cougars have one more national championship in them before moving to Canada West.
“I couldn’t see a more fitting way than going away with a national championship,” he said. “It’s fairly big talk, but as the same time I think we are more than capable of backing it up.”
The Cougars men’s and women’s team open up their home season on Oct. 21 against Grande Prairie.