By Ryan Laverty
Amos and Andy, the Odd Couple, Bo and Luke Duke, Bill Byma and Jeremy Wilcox; all had one thing in common. They were practically attached at the hip. However, one thing distinguishes the latter couple from the three others–fear. Byma and Wilcox were undoubtedly one of the most fearsome duos ever to grace the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. But their ascension into Dinos’ volleyball greatness did not begin in 1996, both men’s first year at the University of Calgary. It began years before they ever graced us with their unique combination of grace and power.
The birthplace of the Byma-Wilcox tandem is only a stone’s throw from the U of C campus. At Branton Junior High School their domination began. Jeremy would set and Bill would kill. While neither had the polish they possess today, both were diamonds in the rough. From Branton they moved to Sir William Aberhart High School, where they continued to strike fear, and volleyballs, into the hearts of opponents.
Their passion for the game only grew with time, and their awareness of each other made them even more dangerous on the court. High school sparked the addition of the club volleyball scene to the development of Byma and Wilcox. They wore their Canuck Stuff sweatshirts and pants like a uniform, as all proud Dinos’ club team members did from the ages of 15 to 17. But unlike all the other wannabe Al Taylors, these two had something special about them. It was evident to U of C Head Coach Greg Ryan when he recruited them to the Dinos university program.
But alas, like every great pair the time came for the two to go their separate ways. After 10 years of playing together, Jeremy opted to forgo his final year of eligibility for a professional career in Dueren, Germany.
"It’s different not playing with Jer, but it’s good because it’s given me the opportunity to play with new guys," Byma remarked. "It has helped me get better at adjusting."
Wilcox’ sentiments are similar to his 6’7" counterpart.
"It was a difficult decision for me to leave the Dinos," he said. "I enjoyed my time at U of C greatly but here I am improving much more and my career as a volleyball player is in a much better position.
"I have gained a lot from playing with Bill, but now I have the experience knowing that I am not able to rely on him to bail me out of a tough situation."
While both players admit to missing the other’s company, both are sure they’ll play together again someday.
"I know we’ll play together in the future. I’m sure we’ll meet on national teams and stuff," Byma remarked.
Wilcox, on the other hand, seemed much more definite about their future engagements.
"I will play with Bill again, there is no doubt," he said. "We’ll see; either with the national team or playing pro. I am trying to get him here (Dueren) on the same team I’m on. The management is interested and things may just turn out."
Wilcox’s team in Germany earned second place in their league and just came off a thrilling loss in the German Cup Finals.
"The first couple of months I was missing home quite a bit," said Wilcox. "I also was not playing that great. This has been my first year on my own and I found it difficult without seeing family and friends on a regular basis. But as I said, things are much better now that I have settled in."
Byma will complete his final year of eligibility with the Dinos in March. It will mark the end of another chapter in Dinos’ history, one that won’t soon be forgotten by the fans. Byma plans to head for Europe after the school year. At this point he is indefinite about where he may play.
"Spain or Germany are the most likely places I’ll go," he said.
Something tells me that if his buddy has anything to say about it, these two may be back to their old tricks sooner rather than later.