Brett Theise is a proven winner on the volleyball court and that winning tradition continued in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference this season.
Theise broke onto the volleyball scene while leading the Wymark Wolverines to a pair of SWAC Junior Volleyball League titles in grade eight and nine. After winning three straight provincial medals with the Swift Current Comp. Senior Colts volleyball team, the rookie setter and the Red Deer College Kings won the ACAC championship.
The Kings were one of three teams to tie for top spot in the ACAC with a 20-4 record as they won their final 10 matches. They eventually defeated the host Lethbridge College Kodiaks 3-1 in the championship match on February 29.
The Kings then placed fifth at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Volleyball National Championship in Fredericton, NB on March 11-14.
They won their opening match 3-0 over the host St. Thomas University Tommies. Red Deer dropped the semi-final 3-2 to the eventual champion Capilano University Blues. They also lost the bronze semi-final match 3-2 to the rival Lethbridge College Kodiaks to conclude their season.
“It went really well. We won ACAC Provincials. That’s usually the hardest league to win. Then making it to Nationals, everybody wants to make it there and we made it. It sucked to lose the semi-final, but it was good,” he said of the season.
The trip to Nationals was a memorable one as the tournament was substantially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12.
“The first game we were playing the home team. We were just warming up and the crowd was starting to come in and then they kicked them all out. We were like, ‘What’s going on?’ Then we started hearing that everything was getting cancelled. Lucky enough our tournament never got cancelled,” explained Theise.
The tournament was ultimately completed, but without fans in the building.
“It was weird because my team is used to, because we are the team that everyone wants to beat usually, so usually everyone is cheering against us and we use that to fire us up a little. It was weird.”
The 6’0” setter appeared in 17 of the Kings’ 24 ACAC matches as he finished with 19 assists, eight digs, six service aces and one kill.
“It went good. I learned a lot. I am looking forward to next year,” said the 19-year-old.
Theise spent three seasons with the Swift Current Comp. Senior Colts. They won bronze at 5A Provincials in grade 10, gold in grade 11 to end an 18-year championship draught, and silver in his final season before he made the jump to the ACAC in Red Deer.
“Definitely the speed of the game changes a lot. I learnt that it’s different from high school and club volleyball. There are bigger guys, stronger guys, so you have to learn to play a little smarter and not harder.”
Theise was studying Business Administration as he juggled school and volleyball.
“It was good. Playing volleyball and doing school is definitely hard because you don’t really have that much time to focus on your school, so you can only take a certain amount of course load. It was different, but I did it and it wasn’t that hard.
Kings’ starting setter Thomas Wass is headed back to Australia after three years, so Theise is in line to take over the primary setting duties next season.
“I’m excited and ready to win,” said Theise, who also played for the Swift Current Junior SunDogs Volleyball Club in Swift Current.
The ACAC can also be a springboard for athletes to make the jump up to the U Sports level as well.
“I’ve definitely thought about moving up, but I think I’m definitely happy with just playing for the Kings for now. We’ll see what happens.”