Huskies outside hitter Paul Thomson has been having an excellent season and he has helped the team put their noses in the thick of the playoff race.
Thomson leads the team in kills so far this year and is currently sitting fourth in the conference, but he isn’t concerned about individual stats.
“I didn’t know I was fourth in the conference,” Thomson said. “Volleyball is the epitome of a team sport, so individual stats don’t mean a ton.”
That being said, the team has battled some tough injuries this year. Their Jan. 9 game was the first time the Huskies had played with all seven starters healthy and it showed, as they knocked off the 11–3 Brandon University Bobcats that night. The following weekend on Jan. 16 and 17, they shutout the University of Regina Cougars. With all of them at peak health, it appears the team is now hitting a rhythm.
“Our first half was a little shaky, it wasn’t the same feel on the court from night-to-night but I think we’re getting there,” he said, adding that the matchup against Brandon “wasn’t exactly as solid as we wanted it to be but this weekend was better so hopefully we’ll continue to improve.”
Despite being a forced to be reckoned with on the volleyball court, Thomson stands at 6’6” and nearly used his height to play basketball. It wasn’t until a fluke opportunity that Thomson even considered the game of digs and kills.
“I wasn’t a big volleyball player and in Grade 11, the current [Huskies] girls coach Jason Grieve came down to Assiniboine — where I’m from — and got me and my buddy to play for his club team. I was more of a basketball player and that sparked it for me, playing on a national club team.”
Following high school he joined the U of S volleyball team with one goal in mind: to play at the national level.
“I came to this program six years ago knowing that we were hosting nationals this year. It was one of the big factors why I came,” Thomson said.
With the Huskies slated to host the CIS men’s volleyball championships in Saskatoon this year, Thomson and the rest of the team are in the mindset they can finally win the national title.
“We have the feeling we can win,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we had a good shot to win it all.”
Six long years have passed since Thomson’s decision and now he sits in his fifth and final year of Huskie volleyball eligibility. The computer science major has many fond memories of playing on the team, but one match in particular stands out.
“Back in my first year, one of our last games before Christmas was against the University of Alberta and they were ranked near the top and we hadn’t gotten many wins. On the Saturday night, we had one of the closest games I’ve ever been a part of and we ended up beating them in five sets. We were down 13–8 and Alwyn Piche went on a big serving run, it was insanity.”
That was one of just six wins for the squad that year, but since then, the program has improved dramatically. It’s been a long road but Thomson loves the team aspect and how far they have come.
“It has a lot to do with the guys, you form this bond that’s hard to explain with your teammates. You just want to go out and play for each other,” he said. “I have a lot of other interests, but be being able to play for a team and a family has kept me around.”
Although it will be his final year on the court, Thomson still has another year left to finish his degree and is currently doing an internship. However, once he finishes his schooling, he has plans to stray away from the sport for a bit.
“I really want to do some travelling after I’m done and put things on hold for a while.”
Photo: Jordan Dumba