Brad Gunter's memorable five years with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men's volleyball team came to a less-than-memorable end Feb. 13 in Kamloops.
Before a spirited crowd at the TRU gym, the WolfPack fell in straight sets to the Trinity Western University Spartans (25-14, 25-23, 25-16) to finish the regular season out of the playoffs with a 10-14 record. Prior to the game, the team said goodbye to Gunter and fellow fifth-year players Brandon Hewwing and Graham Stoliker.
With family and friends in attendance for the send-off ceremony, Gunter led the 'Pack from his outside hitter position against TWU. He had 11 kills in 25 chances with an assist, three digs and a solo block. He finishes his CIS career with all-time records of 1,476 kills and 1,709.5 points.
Spartans coach Ben Josephson had a lot of praise for Gunter, whom he coached at the Canada Summer Games. “I don’t know if we are going to see the likes of him again. The way he swings. And to swing that many balls for that long and put up those kind of numbers.
"Imagine if he had been healthy last year. He would have won the player of the year in Canada twice in a row. I think he is one, if not the most dominant player I have had to plan against. I am excited to start rooting for him as he wears the red and white for Canada for the rest of his career.”
Gunter, a G.P. Vanier grad described by TRU sports information officer Larry Read as "arguably…the best ever" WolfPack player, entered the weekend with career stats of 1,452 kills, 1,680 points, 687 digs, 4.20 kills per set, 105 service aces, 43 blocks, 160 block assists, and 4.20 kills per set. He recently became the Canada West (and unofficially the CIS) leader in kills and points. Those stats were in 94 matches and 346 sets.
A starter since his first year, Gunter has been injured almost every season. It would be amazing to see what his stats totals would have been if he were healthy the entire time.
“It goes fast when you look back at it,” said Gunter, who was the CIS and Canada West player of the year in 2013-14, a two-time Canada West all-star, a second team CIS all-star in 2014-15, won the Ray Lepp Scholarship (Volleyball BC), was Sport BC’s University athlete of the year (2014), and the Kamloops Sports Council University Athlete of the Year (2014).
“I have enjoyed my time here and glad I stayed. Obviously the CIS MVP stands out the most,” Gunter stated. “Also the Canada West records I just broke (points and kills). That will follow me for quite a while.”
Gunter chose TRU after playing for head coach Pat Hennelly for Team BC for two years, including the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops.
He felt it was an easy transition going from Courtenay to Kamloops and that helped make his student/athlete experience that much smoother. Gunter liked the chance to meet people from outside the community through the team’s community work and enjoyed the family atmosphere that the WolfPack athletic program emphasizes.
Gunter represented Canada twice during his time at TRU: with the Junior National and the Senior “B” team. “Those experiences were awesome. I got so much better as a player. Going to the World Junior Championships in Turkey was an amazing experience.”
His future goals are to play professional volleyball and to someday join fellow TRU alumna Gord Perrin with the Senior National Team.
“Brad has put together quite a career here," said Hennelly. “He had a breakout year in year three (2013-14) and has kept it going in year four (2014-15) and five (2015-16). It’s nice to see Brad step into the top ranks of all the guys who have ever played volleyball in Canada West.”