Stuck in the middle with volleyballsaur Graham Vigrass

By Rhiannon Kirkland

Men’s volleyball practice is loud. As the team practices you can hear the players calling out, communicating and supporting each other. Volleyball is a team sport built on strategy and working together, which you can see in the way the players interact with one another. Standing among the players, practicing his serve is middle Graham Vigrass — a tall, quiet and mild mannered figure. At 6’8″ Vigrass is tall by any standards.

Vigrass was named the CW male athlete of the week for the week of Jan. 16. He is second in CW hitting percentage at 0.408 per cent and third in kills with an average of 3.98 a game. Vigrass was the 2010 CIS championship MVP.

Vigrass began playing volleyball in junior high school because of his family’s love of the sport. His aunts, uncle, cousins, older brother and older sister all played volleyball, so it was only natural for Vigrass to get involved as well. After playing volleyball for his junior high school he moved onto the club level with the Canuck Volleyball Club here in Calgary. He was also involved in other sports like basketball.

“I liked the mental side of the game more than a lot of the other sports I was playing at the time,” said Vigrass.

Vigrass spent four summers on the national team, first on the youth team, and then on the junior team. This gave him the chance to train with the national team over the summer. As a member of the youth team, Vigrass traveled to the Dominican Republic for a qualifier where Canada failed to advance.

“First year of junior we went down to El Salvador after the month of training and then qualified for worlds the next summer, so that was two years ago we went to India,” said Vigrass. “It was amazing. It was definitely an eye opener to see what good volleyball actually is compared to what we think good volleyball is. We were the top players in the country for our age and those guys made us look like idiots. Humbling.”

After spending two summers training and competing on the junior national team, Vigrass spent last summer on the university level national team. He hopes to make that team again this upcoming year, which would give him the opportunity to compete at the Universiade Games.

“Those games are next summer,” said Vigrass. “There’s a tryout and I have to make the team again and make the traveling team so it’s not set in stone that I’m even going.”

Vigrass is now in his fourth year and is one of the veteran figures on the Dinos men’s volleyball team after half of last year’s championship team graduated.

“I try to bring a lot of the national team stuff to them, in the summers,” said Vigrass. “Now we have an expectation of quality. Instead of before it was kind of trying to reach that and now we know what it is and expect it out of every guy.”

After Vigrass finishes playing volleyball at the U of C, he hopes to get the opportunity to go overseas and play for a professional indoor volleyball team and make the senior national team.

“The indoor leagues are similar to what we do here, without school and they’re full-time athletes who get a salary just like any other sport pretty much,” said Vigrass. “The top leagues are in France, Italy, Russia, but there’s leagues in Greece, Spain, Holland. Poland’s got a big one. A lot of European teams.”

On the academic side of things, Vigrass is a geology major with a minor in physics.

Despite having practice every single day, he doesn’t find it hard to balance athletics with his classes.

“You’ve just gotta make sure you know when you have volleyball. We all have a lot of time for school,” said Vigrass. “You just can’t be lazy, that’s when it catches up to you.”

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