A volleyball player in his fifth and final year at Trinity Western University has earned himself some high honours on his way out the door.
Ryan Sclater, a 6 ft.-6 in. tall, 195-pound English major, helped lead TWU to his second straight U SPORTS men’s volleyball championship earlier this month.
And now, he’s been crowned the Canada West athlete of the year and consequently been nominated for a larger honour called the BLG Awards.
“Ryan’s amazing year continues to amaze me,” said Trinity’s head coach Ben Josephson.
“Ryan truly is one of those special athletes and men who you rarely get to coach and play with. He is a champion on the court, in the classroom, in the locker room and every other room he happens to be in.”
Sclater had what Josephson called a “remarkable season” for the Spartans, earning the Canada West and U SPORTS Player of the Year awards for men’s volleyball after posting the ninth highest single-season kills total in conference history.
More about BLG Award
The BLG Award has honoured the top U SPORTS athletes for the past 24 years, the winner receiving a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship and all finalists receiving commemorative Jostens gold rings and a Timex (official sponsor of U SPORTS) watch.
Sclater is the fifth BLG Award nominee in TWU’s history, following Jessica King from women’s soccer in 2015, Ben Ball in 2012, Josh Hawatson (nominee and winner) in 2007, and Chris Meehan in 2006 – the latter three all from men’s volleyball.
The outside hitter is also looking to become the 10th Canada West male athlete overall to win the nation’s top honour, and second consecutive winner from the conference after Calgary football star Andrew Buckley earned the award in 2016.
The BLG Awards will be handed out Monday, May 1 in Calgary, where Scalter will be joined by the rest of the nation’s top student-athletes.
“If I do win the BLG Award, I will be honoured beyond belief, but I will not forget that my identity will not change…” Sclater said.
The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with U SPORTS.
The awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship, and leadership.
Each of the 56 U SPORTS schools nominates a female and male athlete of the year.
From these nominees, one female and one male athlete are chosen within each of the four conferences: Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA).
To be eligible, a student-athlete must have competed in a U SPORTS-sanctioned sport for a minimum of two years and cannot be a previous recipient of a BLG Award.
Although the 2017 recipients will be determined by the Canadian Athletic Foundation – a not-for-profit board which has selected the winners for the past 24 years – the general public is once again invited to vote online for the third straight season at www.USPORTS.ca.
How Sclater started in sports
Those who have witnessed Sclater’s exploits on the volleyball court during the past five years simply call it the fitting conclusion to a special university career.
Born and raised in Port Coquitlam, Sclater excelled in many sports growing up.
In basketball, he captained his high school, Terry Fox Secondary, to the AAA BC championship in 2012, meriting tournament MVP honours in the process.
He played Metro soccer until he was 16 and was a three-time school MVP in that sport.
For good measure, he also played one year of high school tennis.
“Choosing volleyball over basketball for my university career was not an easy choice,” Sclater said.
“But I felt that I would be able to go further with the sport in the long-term and I was excited about the opportunity to play at TWU since they were back-to-back national champions and close to home as well,” he added.
After playing in the shadows of more veteran stars in his first two seasons with the Spartans, the outside hitter became a full-time starter in the fall of 2014 and success quickly followed in his third and fourth campaigns – including back-to-back Canada West All-Star nods, a first trip to the national final (2015) and the first conference and U SPORTS titles of his career (2016).
And then came a senior season for the ages.
He was simply dominant in his farewell tour in 2016-17.
Individually, he finished fifth in the country in both kills (4.29) and points (5.0) per set, helping him set single-season and career school records in both statistical categories.
He became the fourth TWU men’s volleyball standout to be named U SPORTS Player of the Year. But more importantly, he helped the Spartans repeat as conference and national champions, a fitting end for a humble athlete who has always put team success ahead of his own.
“Sport has taught me that unrelenting hard work, self-sacrifice, and teamwork are massively important, but what is most important in life is not winning or losing or even trying your best in sports, but laying down your life to help others,” said Sclater, whose wife Amy is also passionate about volleyball and coaches a high-performance team.