By DAVID CHERNISH
Hailing from a small town south of Winnipeg, M.B called Niverville, Garrett Suderman, at the ripe age of 18, was one of the top volleyball recruits in Canada this summer, and the Knights obtained his signature.
Manitoba is known as the hotbed of Canadian volleyball, and Suderman was raised in the middle of it.
Why did Suderman choose Niagara?
“I wanted to rejuvenate my game away from Manitoba I’ve started in many new schools and many new environments by changing high schools rapidly. In Winnipeg, when you play a sport, you know everyone and when volleyball isn’t as big of a sport as opposed to football or basketball.”
In Manitoba, colleges don’t offer student scholarships for players that are playing volleyball for that school and since Suderman preferred college to university, he looked to Ontario. The only person he knew in Niagara was coach Nathan Groenveld from a two-hour phone interview and two-day visit.
“I wanted a fresh start with a new opportunity,” he said.
He is enrolled in the Sport Management program, “I’ve really enjoyed all my courses. The workload isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be and it’s been a pleasing transition from high school to college.”
Adjusting to town has been tougher than expected for him because the lack of grocery stores close to his house. “I feel bad because I nag my friends to take me grocery shopping since I don’t have a vehicle.”
The Manitoba native lives with two roommates and his landlord in a small duplex house.
Volleyball has run in the Suderman family, his father and two older brothers all played volleyball in high school. “My oldest brother runs a volleyball club in Manitoba, and my other brother is playing college volleyball as well,” Suderman said.
His family in Manitoba has recently opened a volleyball club in Winnipeg.
“It looks like it’s going to be good occurring club. We finished third at Provincials in Winnipeg. We had a good chance at winning but the team got plagued by injuries.”
Before the Knights, Suderman played volleyball for two different clubs in Winnipeg. “The biggest club I played for in Winnipeg was called Winman Volleyball Club. It is considered the most successful volleyball club in Winnipeg and they have won nine national championships, I won one of them when I was in Grade 9,” the rookie setter said.
He played for three different high schools over four years, and won three medals.
In Grade 9 Suderman played for his hometown high school called Niverville Collegiate, where he led the team to a medal. In Grade 10, he switched to a private school called Mennonite Brethren Collegiate where he was enrolled and played volleyball until Grade 11, and succeeded to win two medals. In Grade 12 he made his last move to River East Collegiate.
He wears No. 8 to honour his older brother Daniel, who was a big impact in his volleyball career.
“My brother is a great volleyball player. He has coached me from when I was younger and is a setter as well.”
The young setter loves his new coach Groenveld.
“It’s kind of a funny relationship, and we respect each other a lot. When you see us talking, he will make jokes about how I’m from Manitoba and I banter back with a comment saying he is from Welland,” he said with a chuckle.
Groenveld thinks Suderman is settling in nicely.
“He is starting to relax and enjoy himself. Everything I can see he is doing very well academically.”
His game hasn’t exactly been where he has wanted it to be.
“I haven’t played the way I wanted to, but, hopefully, my game will get there.”
Suderman revealed he is battling an injury, patellar tendonitis, which is an injury that affects the tendon connecting your kneecap to your shinbone.
“It hurts, but I am going through physiotherapy to nurse it back to health.”
Once the starting lineup is made, Suderman will have a better idea of what his role will be and how he can elevate the team to new heights.
“Every player wants to start their first year, you want to perform the best you can for your team and once the season gets underway, I’m sure I will be able to settle in.”
Off the court, Suderman has been getting along with his new teammates describing the Knights volleyball team as hilarious characters.
“From Brett Polfus to Bailey Cochrane, they are weird but hilarious, they don’t care what other people think,” he said.
You can watch Suderman and his Knights team open at home on Oct. 31, first serve goes at 8 p.m.