Reaching new heights

Literally towering high above his fellow classmates as he walks down Main Street, it's hard

Long arm of the law
Six foot-five men's volleyball captain Colton deMan stands beside 7'2 French recruit, Grigor Kartev.

to miss Grigor Kartev. That's because the first-year, Open Studies student, who happens to share the same homeland as André the Giant, stands seven feet one inches tall.

Kartev made his way to Calgary from Calais, France to attend Mount Royal and bring his unique attributes and talents to the men's volleyball team.

"Grigor is a fantastic addition to our program," says Men's Volleyball Coach Shawn Sky. "His size and athleticism change the way we play the game and it changes the way opponents prepare and play us."

Kartev has been playing volleyball for ten years which includes time playing with the French National Team.

He currently plays the middle position and according to coach Sky, who is also an advisor and assistant professor in the Physical Education Transfer Program, still hasn't scratched the surface of his potential.

"He's only 19. He's working hard to get stronger, making technical changes with his footwork to become more efficient and gaining valuable playing experience," Sky says.

"His future is very bright."

Kartev admits that he's had to adjust to the Canadian style of play a bit.

"The French style of volleyball is much faster and more technical," he says.

Sky says he's doing just fine. "He creates serious mismatches for us and you can tell other teams outside attackers are very aware of him."

Kartev has also had to adjust a bit to life here in Calgary.

"I'm taking English my first year to improve my language skills," he says.

When asked what drew him to Mount Royal in particular, he says that he's here for his studies.

"I'm here for school first. I can find places to play volleyball anywhere in France, but the opportunity to study is why I'm here," says Kartev.

It's a family affair

Kartev took a somewhat circuitous route to Calgary, but the path was paved by his older brother Ivan, who played for Keyano College in Fort McMurray.

When Sky learned that Konrad Plante, coach of Keyano College at that time, was relocating to Calgary, he asked Plante to join the coaching staff at Mount Royal.

Plante told Sky that Ivan had a younger brother so Sky went after Grigor and the rest as they say is history as both Plante and Kartev became Cougars.

The situation at Mount Royal couldn't be better for Kartev, who must play for one season in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) before competing in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association.

The Mount Royal Cougars are currently competing in their final ACAC season before joining the ranks of other universities in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) the fall of this year.

Which means next season, the two Kartev brothers will face each other in competition on the court.

"I think it will be a bit awkward because we've never played against each other," Kartev says. "We've played together and practiced against each other, but never in direct competition."

Whether against his brother or anyone else, Kartev's presence is certainly felt on the court this year and not to mention all the stares upward he gets while walking the halls.

Coach Sky and the rest of the team are looking forward to seeing Kartev take his talents to the next level in CIS play.

"I expect him to have the same impact in the CIS next year," says Sky.

- Fred Cheney, Jan. 19, 2012