The Cougars have their man
7-foot-2 Grigor Kartev to lead MRU to volleyball championship
Todd Colin Vaughan
Grigor Kartev has come a long way to get where he is.
The seven-foot-two Mount Royal University volleyball middle came all the way from France to guard the net for the Cougars.
Volleyball, however, was not the reason Kartev chose MRU.
“In France I could play volleyball anywhere. I chose to come to Mount Royal for my studies,” Kartev said.
Kartev, who is currently in open studies and planning to go into a bachelor of arts, played in Fort McMurray last year where his coach put him in touch with Cougars’ coach Shawn Sky.
“My coaches up north gave me the chance to get in touch with coach Sky,” he said. “They helped me with that connection and now I’m here.”
Kartev, however, could not play right away with the Cougars. He was restricted to practicing with the team because of English language proficiency requirements.
“Grigor is a very bright kid and we felt that it would greatly benefit him to take an English course at Mount Royal rather then write a requirement test,” Sky said. “I imagine many English-born students at this school would have difficulty with that test.”
Kartev, however, managed to stay busy in the fall and came in ready for winter semester.
“I couldn’t start playing until the winter semester, but I was expecting the wait so that made it a bit better,” he said. “Practicing with the team made it easy to begin playing with them in the winter.”
At seven-foot-two, you could probably guess that Kartev is a bit taller than the average Mount Royal student.
“I’m used to all the looks, it doesn’t bother me at all,” he said.
His coach added that it’s hard for people to ignore Kartev’s stature.
“Even when we’re walking down the halls you can see people whispering. I bet 15 to 20 people come up to him and just ask how tall he is, probably more than that,” Sky said.
Finally part of the team, Kartev has been excelling.
“He’s already statistically leading the league in blocks,” Sky said “He as the ability to change the game every time he is on the court.”
With ACAC playoffs starting Feb. 16, Kartev has high hopes for his team.
“We have a great team. There’s no way we shouldn’t be national champs,” he said.
Sky noted that this was a bold comment, but added that this team is full of confidence and has the ability to decide where they will end up.
“It’s all about the walking the walk,” he added.
With all of MRU’s teams transferring to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) next year, Kartev and his coach both echoed the sentiment that a national championship would be the perfect way to end their time in the ACAC.
“What a perfect way to make that transition,” Sky said.
The coach added that CIS is, however, not until next year and that the only thing on their minds right now is their first match against NAIT.
“We’re only worrying about the next game, next match, next possession,” he said. “National championships and the CIS can all wait.”
Kartev added that they beat NAIT both times they played them, but knew that the OOKS would be ready for them.
“It will be a big game. They’re a good team,” he said.