Terrace volleyball standout Cole Nutma is in for a big change when he suits up at the University of Fraser Valley next year but he’s been well briefed and is ready for the challenge.
Centennial Christian Seahawk Nutma is one of the UFV Cascades men’s volleyball team’s four new recruits after a set up encouraged by his Seahawks’ coaches Joel and Christine Ewald.
The two Cascades volleyball alum contacted coach Kyle Donen earlier this year to alert them to Nutma, and when the team travelled to Abbotsford for provincials, Donen was there to watch – even though Nutma didn’t know it.
“They said they didn’t tell me because they didn’t want me to be nervous,” said Nutma.
“Oh yeah,” he said, breaking into a grin. “So glad they did that.”
The team would go on to win silver at the 2014 BC Single A championship in a thrilling final against the hometown team, capping off an experience that Nutma said is probably the highlight of his lengthy volleyball experience at Centennial.
“The first day we walked into the gym, saw guys hitting the ball around, the whole team was nervous,” he said. “But we had some huge turning points. We were down to Mount Sentinel in the fifth set 14-9 and we came back and won that set 16-14. That was a huge turning point. We beat Credo Christian in the semis, which was unexpected … The finals, even though we lost we fought a battle – that was for sure a highlight playing in front of that big crown, against the hometeam – we were for sure underdogs, so no matter what happened we felt pretty happy to be there.”
That silver was the second provincial medal in the Centennial program’s history, with the team earning the first in 2013.
Nutma, who started playing volleyball in Grade 5, was a key player on Centennial’s small – but successful – team over the years, earning the title of Northwest zone all-star and provincial second-team all-star in 2013, and upgrading to Northwest MVP and provincial first-team honours last season.
After this season’s tournament, Donen emailed Nutma to say he was interested in recruiting him, and close to 100 emails later, Nutma is committed to the team and will be pursuing a bachelor of science as a student at UFV next year.
“I have a had a chance to get to know Cole really well over the course of our many emails,” said Donen.
“Later on he made a visit to Abbotsford and I think UFV became just the perfect fit for him. Coming from a much smaller town it’s a tough decision to leave home but I believe Cole will thrive in our team environment both on and off the floor. He is an extremely hard worker and is driven to succeed at the next level. The versatility that Cole will bring to our team as an all-around solid player should add another level to the competitiveness of our team.”
That versatility he’s talking about is the fact that Nutma plays left side, right side, and middle.
“I started Grade 9 as libero because I was short, hit my growth spurt in Grade 10 then played left side, and then halfway through the season in Grade 10 our middle hurt his ankle, so I played middle. From there I just stayed… coaches loved me playing middle, I love playing middle.”
He says he’s not sure which one he’ll end up playing at UFV, noting that compared to guys at university, at 6’2”, he’s also short, and that will come into play.
But he knows his experience in a small community with a close team that truly values sportsmanship will be a great asset.
“The commitment to the team. We are way tighter than any team I’ve been on,” he said. “It was great.
I’ll for sure miss playing at Centennial… and the small community. I’ve grown up in Terrace my whole life, so you walk down the street and there’s so-and-so, there’s so-and-so… In Abbotsford it’s not going to be like that.”
UFV is “not a huge school but big enough – going from such a small Christian community with only 130 kids (and only five in his graduating class) to a college like that is a good transition. That’s what Joel says,” he said. “It was great, I like it.”
But he said he’s been given advice from his coaches and will be training with Christine, who is a personal trainer, this summer to get in even better shape.
And as for advice for his younger teammates: “Keep your head up, push yourself in practise, it pays on the court. Be sportsmanlike players, ambassadors of God, just give it your all.”