LANGLEY, British Columbia - Trinity Western men’s volleyball alumnus Steven Marshall (Abbotsford, B.C.) has had quite a year. Dating back to last summer, when he signed his professional contract with Poland’s Transfer Bydgoszcz and then rolling into an international season in which he has become a regular contributor on the floor for Canada’s national team, it has been a 365 days to remember for the former Spartan.
Now, with the FIVB World Cup in Japan fast-approaching - a tournament that will see Canada lead off against Italy on Sept. 8 - Marshall, who left TWU in 2013 after spending four seasons with the Spartans, is looking forward to his biggest tournament yet with Canada and is hoping to continue to an impressive run of success that has seen him become a star at both the professional level and with the national side.
The Spartans Alumni Spotlight recently caught up with the former Spartans outside while he was recently in Langley.
You’ve had a chance to play a fairly prominent role with Canada this summer. What has it been like for you?
“It has been a really busy summer. It’s been hectic, but it’s been good for me because I’ve been able to play a lot and my development has come a long way this summer. I have been able to play right side this summer and it was kind of new position for me, but I have enjoyed it a lot and it definitely helped me get better in areas that i might not have if I had just stayed on the left side.”
What was it like to play in Poland with Transfer Bydgoszcz for your first year of professional volleyball?
“It was really cool. Playing in Poland was an amazing experience for me. It’s a different volleyball world over there. They love the game so much. It was like if I was an NHL player in Canada. It’s crazy. The level was really good and the league is so strong.
“And the fans are wild. It was just insane. I think our worst turnout to a game was about 5,000 fans. They would just sing and cheer all game long.”
Note: Marshall will join Germany’s SVG Lüneburg for the 2015-16 campaign and play alongside recently graduated Spartan Nick Del Bianco.
This summer, Canada’s 25-man World League roster featured five Spartan alumni, including Josh Howatson, Rudy Verhoeff, Dan Jansen Van Doorn, Lucas Van Berkel and yourself. What was that like to team up with so many former teammates?
“It was cool. It kind of brings back a bit of a feel of when we were all at TWU. Other than Josh, we all kind of played together at the same time. We had familiarity and had that past experience and it was a lot of fun to get back together on the court.”
You and your Canadian teammates earned a bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto this summer. What was that experience like?
“The Pan Am Games were awesome. It was so well-organized in regards to the village and the venues. And the fan turnout was incredible. We had the best fans that we’ve ever had in Canada, which was so cool. People were actually into the games and yelling and cheering. The fans were really into it and that made for a fantastic atmosphere.”
With the FIVB World Cup approaching in early September, how are you and your teammates approaching the tournament?
“Obviously the fact that it’s the first Olympic qualification tournament kind of gives you a little bit of goosebumps thinking about how it’s now getting down to crunch time for us. I think going into World Cup, it would obviously be amazing to get one of those top two spots and qualify for the Olympics, but i think we’re really focused on playing well and gauging our game against the top teams in the world.
“Our goal is obviously to qualify for the Olympics, so (the Olympics) are in the back of our minds whenever were training or competing. But, at the same time, you kind of put it to the side because we have to focus on one thing at a time. It’s still our end goal and we need to be doing the right things along the way in order to qualify.”
Now that you’ve moved on, when you looking upon your time at TWU, how do you feel playing with the Spartans and under coach Ben Josephson helped you prepare for the next level?
“I think the way Ben runs the team and how professional it is really helped me when I moved to the next level. It made the transition pretty easy for me because the way we practised and trained at TWU is very similar to what you see at the next level, which is somewhat rare at the CIS level.”