The TRU WolfPack men’s volleyball program is in its infancy, but Gord Perrin could easily be given the title as the “greatest player ever to wear a TRU uniform.”
The Creston native is back at TRU these days, for the first time since he joined the Volleyball Canada National Training Centre in 2010-11. Perrin is helping coach at the Volleyball BC Baden Cup U-16/17 camp that wraps up Thursday at the TCC.
“I had some mixed emotions as I walked in here today,” the 6-foot-6 Perrin told Larry Read, TRU’s sports information officer. “I have a lot of memories. I walked around campus. I miss it a little bit. I loved the gym and playing here.”
Perrin was a CIS first, second and all-rookie team all-star and Canada West rookie of the year during his career with TRU. He also was a tournament all-star in 2008 when he led the WolfPack to a bronze medal at the CIS Nationals in Laval.
He believes that 2007-08 squad was the best WolfPack team he played on.
“I looked forward to the year we were hosting (CIS championships in 2010),” he said. “That was the year I wanted to win. We lost a few players. We got Kevin (Tillie of Cagnes Sur Mer, France, who now is an NCAA champion with Pepperdine). It wasn’t as memorable as it should have been.”
When Perrin arrived at TRU, his athletic goals were to play professionally and to represent his country. After starring with the junior national program during his time at TRU, he now is a member of Canada’s senior national ‘A’ and plays professionally in Turkey.
“It is a great experience to play for your country. I love it,” he said. “To compete against other nations . . . it’s a feeling.”
Perrin and the national team program are starting to get some national attention. Their matches in the 16-country FIVB World League that were played in Toronto in May were televised.
“It is awesome for people to see what we are doing,” he said. “It is great that people recognize what we are doing. For it to be on television, Canadians can follow the national men’s team program. We have a good team and its growing. The things we could do in the next ‘quad’ . . . we have a lot of good young talent. It is rewarding that people are recognizing for all the hard work we put in.”
The ‘quad’ to which Perrin refers is the preparation for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio Je Janiero. Canada didn’t qualify for the 2012 Games in London.
“I wanted to be in the Olympics this time around,” Perrin admitted. “We had a lot of veteran players who had these games as a goal to end their careers. It’s sad that they aren’t. . . . 2016 will be my time. I sincerely think we will be there. I could lead the team then.
“I was happy I got to play such a large role in the lead up to trying to qualify for London. I wound up starting for the first time this summer. I know I have one or two more shots at (going to the Olympics). I can’t take that lightly. It happens so fast.”
The 2011-12 season was Perrin’s first as a professional. He joined national team head coach Glen Hoag with a club team — Arkas — in Turkey. Arkas fourth in the Champions Pro League, the best ever finish for a pro team from that country.
“The club is wonderful to play for,” Perrin said. “Everything is great about it. There some clubs out there who are pretty shady but this one is top notch. They provide everything that I need. Turkey is great for volleyball. It’s a big sport there.”
Playing with the WolfPack, Perrin got to appear before crowds as large as 2,000. That pales in comparison to the crowds he plays in front of with Arkas.
“Big matches have as many as 10,000 people there,” he said. “When we play in Poland, the crowds are immense. We had our ‘final four’ there and there was 15,000 people there. In Poland, it’s the No. 1 sport. We played there twice. It was incredible.”
At the same time, Perrin admitted it was intimidating.
“But,” he said, “you just want to play. You get that rush to do well. You don’t get that opportunity that much. I have with both Arkas and playing with Team Canada in Brazil (NORECA World Juniors in 2010). Think of volleyball in Turkey and Poland like an NBA or NHL player here — it’s that kind of attention.”
Perrin said that he is proud to be helping young athletes this week with Team BC, but added that it is is a little unsettling because he isn’t that far removed — five years — from the U-16/17 program.
“I clearly remember playing for this team,” he said.
“I want to give back to the kids. My mom convinced me that I was one of these kids once. I will always be a BC alumni. I want to help the kids be the best they can be.”