In this day and age of youth athletes focusing specifically on one sport year-round, Ryan Sclater was a bit of a throwback, playing multiple sports at an elite level.
Sclater was playing both metro and high school soccer, high school basketball, tennis and club volleyball.
By the time he got to Grade 11, he had cut the sports down to volleyball and basketball.
While he loved soccer, the six-foot-six Sclater knew his body size likely meant more success and opportunities in to the other two sports.
And while there was no high school volleyball at Terry Fox Secondary, Sclater was dominant on the basketball court, helping the Ravens capture the 2012 B.C. 3A provincial high school championship. Sclater earned most valuable player honours for the tournament as well.
But when the time came to narrow his focus to one sport for post-secondary, volleyball and Trinity Western University was the choice.
“Every once in a while (TWU coach Ben Josephson) will ask me ‘are you still good with volleyball?’” Sclater said with a chuckle.
“And I still think it was the best choice.”
Now in his fourth year with the Spartans men’s volleyball team, the 22-year-old Sclater has emerged as one of the top players in the Canada West conference.
Sclater led the Spartans in kills (350) and kills per set (4.07) as well as points (405) and points per set (4.7). His hitting percentage came in at .272.
All five of those numbers were also good for second in the Canada West conference and have him ranked in fourth (kills, points) and sixth (kills per set, points per set), respectively among all Canadian university players.
It has been a quick ascent, not just in terms of development, but in how fast the time has gone.
“It just feels like one day you wake up and you are in your fourth year,” Sclater said.
The first year was all about learning as the outside hitter — he can play either the right or left side — so he played sparingly.
The second year saw him make the most of an increased role, going from 11 kills and 0.22 points per set to 183 kills and 2.65 points per set. And last year, those numbers were even better with 307 kills (3.9 points per set).
“He was an incredible athlete obviously, but he wasn’t a super devoted volleyball player,” Josephson said.
“He was pretty raw because he never played high school volleyball.”
“(But) in his time here, he has turned into more of a volleyball player and less of an athlete and I think he has made himself into a pretty special volleyball player.”
Part of what has allowed Sclater to develop from raw potential to a conference all-star — he was a second team Canada West selection in 2015 — are his smarts.
“His athletic background allows him to pick up stuff quickly,” Josephson said.
“And his intelligence — he understands the objective of each skill and each system and tactic … you can almost see him processing (things). You don’t have to explain things to him.
“Once he gets it, he understands and you almost don’t ever have to talk to him again about it.”
Sclater’s smarts aren’t limited to athletics either as he is a three-time academic all-Canadian and is sporting a 4.0 grade point average in his fourth year.
For his part, Sclater says that playing for the Spartans, one of the premier programs in the country, has been a big factor in his development as being surrounded by great talent made him work even harder.
Sclater — who still has one year of eligibility remaining — and the Spartans are in Calgary for a Canada West best-of-three quarter-final series this weekend (see below).