For the first time in their history, a member of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack has been named Player of the Year in CIS sports.
Brad Gunter, a third year outside hitter from Courtenay, has been named the CIS Men’s Volleyball Player of the Year for 2013-14. He was awarded the honour at the CIS Nationals Awards breakfast Feb. 26 in Calgary.
As well, Colin Carson (5th year, setter, Prince George) was named the winner of the Dale Iwanozko Student-Athlete Award. That award goes to a player who exhibits outstanding achievement in three areas: volleyball, academics and community involvement.
In only his third university season, Gunter not only established himself as one of the best offensive weapons in the country, he also etched his name in the Canada West record books in a number of statistical categories.
In 18 league matches, Gunter, the 6-foot-6 science student, led the CIS in kills (5.31) and points (6.04) per set as well as total points (404.5), while placing second in total kills (356). His kill-per-set average is a new single-season Canada West mark, while his point-per-game average ranks second all-time in the conference
Gunter, who was named to the CIS all-rookie team in 2011-12 and started for the junior national squad last summer, also ranked fifth in CIS in both total attacks (742) and service aces (27).
Thanks in large part to his stellar play, Thompson Rivers finished fourth in the league standings with a 13-9 record and reached the best national ranking in program history in mid-January (No. 4).
Gunter, who last week received Canada West men’s volleyball MVP and first team all-star accolades, was also named to the CIS first all-star team.
“This season was kind of an eye opener for me,” Gunter said. “I came into it with confidence from playing on the junior national team and that confidence made my play way better. Even though, we ended with a disappointing loss in final four and not making it to nationals, I still feel it was successful with a record amount of wins in the season. It will definitely open the door for our team next year,” the G.P. Vanier grad said.
“My success comes from my confidence. It gives the team a leader to look up to and someone to turn to when games aren’t going well. I believe my volleyball intelligence has grown hugely, especially my ability to make shots instead of just hitting the ball hard every time.”
Gunter maybe basking in the glow of being the player of the year, but he wanted to thank a few people. “I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am now; my family and coaches, especially my high school coach Brian McAskill. And, of course (TRU head coach) Pat Hennelly and all of TRU athletics.”
Hennelly was in Calgary to see both his players honoured.
“It is excellent for Brad and Carson to be recognized on the national level,” he said. “Brad had a great season improving in every skill from last year,” he continued.
“It was unfortunate he was hampered by a couple of ankle sprains late in the season. Brad has developed over the past three seasons, he has improved in serving and hitting dramatically since his first year. I still believe Brad will continue to improve and will continue to develop as one of the top players in the country. I am proud of the work ethic both Colin and Brad have shown this past year and their careers.”
Added TRU Athletics and Recreation Director Ken Olynyk: “Brad has continued to improve and work at his game in the off season, what you see in his nomination is a culmination of his hard work and support from his coaches and staff.”
– TRU WolfPack