‘Re­nais­sance man’ is ruth­less on the court

Trin­ity Western’s vol­ley­ball star among the nom­i­nees for this year’s BLG Awards

Montreal Gazette - - SPORTS - VICKI HALL

Ryan Sclater is known at Trin­ity Western Univer­sity ev­ery bit as much for his love of English lit­er­a­ture as for his prow­ess on the vol­ley­ball court.

While many stu­dent ath­letes are con­sumed by their sport, Sclater is the poster child for liv­ing a bal­anced life. The 23-yearold from Port Co­quit­lam, B.C. is a devout Chris­tian, loving hus­band, ded­i­cated scholar and fan­tas­tic vol­ley­ball player — in that or­der.

The Canada West male athlete of the year is one of four male fi­nal­ists — along with hockey player Philippe Mail­let from the Univer­sity of New Brunswick, foot­ball player Math­ieu Betts of Laval Univer­sity and soccer star Jonathan Lao of York Univer­sity — for the 2016-17 BLG Award.

The win­ners of the male and fe­male BLG Awards, hon­our­ing the top ath­letes in U Sports, will be an­nounced May 1 at a cer­e­mony in Cal­gary.

“For me, it’s al­ways been a nor­mal thing to be fully in­volved in both athletics and aca­demics,” Sclater said Thurs­day. “That was al­ways just some­thing I as­sumed was nor­mal, which I later found it wasn’t. I’ve learned a lot about hav­ing to pick to the things that are ab­so­lutely the most im­por­tant and to com­mit to those things.”

When Sclater com­mits, he is all in. On the vol­ley­ball court, the six-foot-seven out­side hit­ter led Trin­ity Western — based in Langley, B.C. — to a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive na­tional ti­tle. He fin­ished fifth in the coun­try in both kills (4.29) and points (5.0) per set, es­tab­lish­ing sin­gle-sea­son and ca­reer school records in both sta­tis­ti­cal cat­e­gories.

“The scout­ing re­port is that he’s just a stone-cold killer, a point scorer,” Trin­ity Western head coach Ben Joseph­son said. “And he plays both left and right side, which is go­ing to make him a re­ally good pro­fes­sional vol­ley­ball player.”

Sclater ex­celled in bas­ket­ball at Terry Fox Sec­ondary School, which didn’t have a vol­ley­ball team. He led the hoops squad to a pro­vin­cial ti­tle and was named the cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment’s most valu­able player, all the while play­ing club vol­ley­ball.

“In the bas­ket­ball world, peo­ple were pretty sur­prised that I was go­ing to con­tinue on with vol­ley­ball,” Sclater said. “At Terry Fox, bas­ket­ball was pretty dom­i­nant. It was a foot­ball and bas­ket­ball school. I thought about which sport I would be able to go far­ther with long-term. I knew I could prob­a­bly play post-sec­ondary for ei­ther one, but it was prob­a­bly a long shot to make the NBA.”

With near-per­fect grades, Sclater earned his English de­gree, won two vol­ley­ball cham­pi­onships and signed on for next sea­son with a pro­fes­sional team in Ger­many. He is also on the radar of the Cana­dian na­tional men’s vol­ley­ball team.

“He re­ally is a re­nais­sance

man,” Joseph­son said. “He’s not your typ­i­cal jock or stu­dent athlete of today. He’s very much a stu­dent who is pretty good at sports.”

On road trips and in quiet mo­ments be­fore and af­ter prac­tice, Sclater could of­ten be found read­ing the clas­sic works of John Donne, Ger­ard Man­ley Hopkins and Ge­of­frey Chaucer.

“When I was three, my mom would read me this one book about Noah’s ark over and over again, and even­tu­ally I just mem­o­rized it,” he said. “I would turn the pages and read.”

That gave Sclater con­fi­dence to start putting the words to­gether for real by age four or five.

“When you learn to read and re­mem­ber what you read, then school just be­comes eas­ier than it is for other peo­ple,” said Sclater, who hopes to one day be­come an English pro­fes­sor.


Trin­ity Western Univer­sity’s Ryan Sclater is one of four male fi­nal­ists for the 2016-17 BLG Award, which will be an­nounced May 1.

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