(ISN) – Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball team will honor four veteran players over the next two weekends. Matt Krueger (Abbotsford, BC), Stuart Richey (Robert’s Creek, BC), Casey Knight (Salt Spring Island, BC) and Blake Majcher (Brandon, MB) will complete their five years of CIS eligibility this year.
Krueger and Richey were honored before the ‘Pack’s match with the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat at the Tournament Capital Centre on Saturday (Jan 17).
Krueger has the distinction of being tied for the longest serving member of the Thompson Rivers program. He has actually been in school at TRU for six years. He had to red shirt one season after becoming ill.
“It is crazy for me to think that in a couple of weeks I will be finished my volleyball career at TRU,” the MEI graduate said. ” It is definitely bitter sweet. The game of volleyball has given me so many unforgettable experiences. Going to Korea after my first year and learning the sport from a different country was a once in a lifetime experience. The teammates and friendships that have been created will forever be a part of me. I will miss those, but now I get the opportunity to turn the page and create a new chapter in my life which is very exciting.”
Richey joined the program in 2010 after being recruited out of relatively obscure Eliphinstone Secondary in Gibson’s. Richey’s sister Kyla played five years at UBC and is a member of the National Team. ” It’s sad that my career is coming to a close. It feel fortunate I have played in the CIS for five years but I am looking forward for what lies ahead of me in my future.”
Both say the last few months of their career have seen them trying to absorb everything surrounding the WolfPack and CIS volleyball. ” There have been a lot of ups and downs personally and as a team but I think we’ve been able to pull it together and make a push for a playoff spot which would be a great finish to my CIS career,” stated Richey.
“It hasn’t hit me until recently that this is my last year,” explains Krueger. ” I am trying to take in everything. On the court, I try not to think about those things, but of course, those thoughts do enter my mind every once in a while. You take a lot for granted when you are younger. So now, I am trying to live in the moment and enjoy my last couple of weeks.”
Krueger says his favorite memories were not only team trips to California and Hawaii but making two trips to the playoffs. Richey pointed those experiences along with winning a bronze medal last year in the Canada West Final Four.
Krueger added that in his first year veterans like Gord Perrin (Creston, BC), Behlul Yavasgel (Turkey) and Robin Schoebel (Monaco) were great role models. “They showed me right from the beginning what was needed in order to make that next step into CIS.”
Both players say the experience moving from high school to being a starter at the CIS level was a journey. ” I had a lot to learn about myself as a volleyball player and a person,” says Krueger. ” Moving away from home, and having to figure some things out for myself caused me to do that. I have been able to slow down the game and focus on the strategic side of volleyball. I think this also came from coaching Team BC the past two summers. Personally, I have to thank Pat (head coach Hennelly) for teaching me not only about volleyball but life after volleyball throughout the six years I have been here. He has been my coach but more importantly, he has taught me the value of hard work and going after your personal goals.”
“I think I have grown tremendously both as a person and player since coming to TRU,” Richey explains. ” having limited exposure to the game coming into my first year, I realized I had an enormous amount of work to do to catch up to some of the other players on the team. Through my work ethic, I feel as if I have continually improved as a player. Having gone through my most difficult year of my life last year (losing his twin brother), I have gained tremendous perspective on what is important in life. I know how important family is and I have had amazing support from them coming to every one of my home games and any in the Lower Mainland.”
Hennelly has praise for both Krueger and Richey: “Matt has been here for six years. He has been a bridge from the’ Gord Perrin/Robin Schoebel/Kevin Tillie’ era to the present. He has been part of the resurgence of the program the past two years. He is a great leader and gets along well with all types of players and has been able to pull the team together. We have guys from different parts of the world, the country and have different religions. He has done a great job of melding everyone. He has been a team captain for a couple of years. He is a real calming factor on the court.”
And on Richey, the coach says. “When Stu came in he did not have a lot of Volleyball experience. The Sunshine Coast doesn’t have a lot of guys volleyball. He got the ‘bug’ a little late in his high school career. I looked at his character and talked to people familiar with the family and thought he could be a good fit for us. He has fulfilled a role in training early in his career and worked his way into a starting role last year, which he never lost. He is one of the fittest and hardest working players Stuart is a team captain as well. He brings a lot of character. It doesn’t always show up on the score sheet the things he does. People don’t know the things he does behind the scenes. He is certainly a ‘driver of our program’. I can’t say enough about the character and leadership he brings. He sets the fitness level that others here have to achieve.”
The other two WolfPack fifth year players—Knight and Majcher will be honored on Saturday, January 24 th.
SIDE OUTS: Richey on words of advice to younger players: “As cliché as it is, always work hard and don’t take a minute of this journey for granted. Learn and get better as a player and person each day. Keep things big and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Krueger says: “The advice I would give to younger athletes is to enjoy it. Five years goes by really fast. Don’t have any regrets. Do not end your university career wishing you could have done more. Everyday have purpose to do everything you can to achieve your goals.”
When asked if the younger players have been seeking advice from them, Krueger stated :” For me, I had the privilege to coach most of the rookies during Team BC two summers ago. We already had as relationship then, and it has carried through this year. It allows us to communicate easier, and they for sure have pushed the other older guys this year. I hope I had the same impact on them this year as older players did to me when I first came to TRU.”