The jolly green and gold giant

Matt Grimshaw is a fourth year St. Thomas player on the men’s volleyball team. His 6’6″ stature provides unique playing ability and can be seen all over campus — if you look up, that is. He is ranked nationally with the best blocking percentage and has the best hitting percentage in the ACAA.

(Shawn Murphy/AQ)
(Shawn Murphy/AQ)

Grimshaw has gotten the call to start every game this season, and is playing like a veteran. However, Grimshaw has done something that separates the good player from the great players: improve.

Grimshaw is from Port Carling, Ontario. His first September in school didn’t start with a volleyball try out. Grimshaw’s first attempt at becoming a varsity athlete was for the basketball team.

“I think the tryout went okay, but the coach said to me I should try out for volleyball because I have a more volleyball body,” said Grimshaw.

So in his basketball shoes, Matt Grimshaw remained in the gym for men’s volleyball tryouts, immediately following.

“He came in pretty raw, but one thing you can’t coach is height,” said coach Francis Duguay, who saw potential in Grimshaw’s size. “We gave him the chance, he kept playing volleyball, pursued, and by his third year he had become one of the best middles in the league.”

For his first two seasons, Grimshaw spent the majority of his time on the bench.

“Anyone that has played a sport has sat on the bench and they want to prove that they can perform and get better,” said Grimshaw. “Every practice I would always try my hardest to show coach that I was improving.”

Grimshaw credits his team for a lot of improvement, and feels like he’s learned much from his teammates on the floor.

“The first two years were all about getting used to my height. I was always awkward but now it’s just natural,” he said. “I would practice my approach and blocking footwork in my room in residence.”

Grimshaw said he looked to players like Jason Cannon, Nick Levesque and Will Rochlow for guidance. His team has helped him with footwork as well as timing, making him one of the hottest hitters in the league.

Grimshaw continued to improve and worked towards more and more playing time with the Tommies in his third season. It wasn’t until teammate and fellow middle Rochlow got hurt that Grimshaw got a big chance to show what he was made of on the court.

“I think that was his first stepping stone at nationals and this year hopefully he’ll be a force to be reckoned with,” said Duguay. “He’s come a long way and is a big part of our team.”

Now Grimshaw is giving other players guidance, passing on knowledge he learned from his teammates.

“I’m still pretty shy on the court in the game but I try to help some of the first years with their game,” said Grimshaw. “I tell them, ‘Don’t worry, I was 10 times worse than you when I started and look at me now.’’”

Grimshaw said he wants to get better at defense, and that there is still always room to improve. However, he knows with the support of his teammates and his desire to improve, there is now telling what this friendly giant will take on next.

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