Dec 19, 2014
GATINEAU, QC – After winning three straight Athlete of the Year Awards at Mount Royal, Colton de Man is now staring down his next goal; playing volleyball professionally.
Colton arrived at the National Team Training Facility in Gatineau, Quebec this past August to enroll in Volleyball Canada’s FTC program. The FTC program is designed to help bridge the gap between university volleyball and the professional ranks.
Only a handful of players were handpicked from around the CIS and deemed to have exceptional talent by the executives at Volleyball Canada. Their objective is to identify, select and develop a group of athletes with the ability or potential for qualifying for the 2015 FIVB Championship, the 2016 and the 2020 Olympics, as well as performing well in the 2015-2016 quadrennial.
Colton took some time to talk about his experience training at the FTC this season.
What is the biggest change in lifestyle from the University experience? Instead of school it’s all volleyball, do you find it to be easier or there is more added pressure?
It is a bit of both. It is nice that when you are done all your training and get home exhausted, there is no homework to do. It is a little more physically demanding, as you practice six hours a day. It is also starting to occur to me that this is now my job.
I find there is a little bit less pressure because at the FTC we are preparing and getting ready. I find I have days that are most frustrating than anything. Everyday day I am being critiqued and am forced to make a lot of minor changes to my game. You can’t get away with as much here as you could at the university level.
How has your progression been this season? What areas of your game have improved the most?
It sometimes seems like I haven’t progressed that much because there are so many little things changing daily, but I know that if Sky (Shawn Sky, Men’s Volleyball Coach) saw me, he would immediately notice a difference.
I think my biggest improvements have come in my ball control technique. I have noticed my passing and digs have really improved.
They have really taught me to simplify the game and to get rid of unnecessary movements to maximize consistency. The philosophy seems to be the more movement, the more possibility for errors.
Is there anything that Shawn Sky or the coaching staff at MRU taught you that is serving you well at the FTC?
Shawn is big on the mental aspect of the game. When I’m down on myself, he has showed me a lot of techniques to help get through it and right now it is helping me a lot. He has also made me realize how privileged I am just to be here.
Sky is also a great technical coach. After watching and talking with some of the other CIS athletes in the program, I realized just how much knowledge of the game he truly has.
Are there any guys you look up to in the program? If so what is the best thing they taught you?
Dan Lewis, the libero for the men’s national ‘A’ team, has been a huge help to all of us at the FTC. He has been training with us this year and has helped me tremendously.
Dan is such a good passer and is always willing to help us out. It is one thing to have coaches tell you how to do something, but it is quite another when you can see one of the world’s best do it live and in person.
The FTC is pretty far from home and there is definitely a bit of a language barrier, being located in Quebec. How are you dealing with that? How is your French now?
This is the first time I have left Calgary to live elsewhere and it is definitely a bit of an adjustment. I have learned how to cook a few dishes but it hasn’t been too difficult. I live and train with some of my best friends so the transition has been pretty seamless. We have a great support system of guys here.
My French is still not great but I’ve got the Rosetta Stone going at home so I am improving slowly.
The Cougars are having a good year. Have you been watching them this season? Are there any players on this year’s team that have caught your eye?
I watch them every chance I get. I saw their big wins over Trinity Western and UBC, which is huge for the program.
Sam (Brisbane) is great setter; he controls the game so well. Jordan Or is as good as it gets at the libero position in the CIS. Tyler Schmidt is having a really solid rookie year and looks pretty good in that #8 jersey.
Do you stay in touch with any of the guys from the Cougars?
I text Jordan (Or) all the time about the Cougars and he keeps me updated. I talk to Riley (Friesen) a lot as well; he is one of my closest friends.