Brent Mutis, CapU Sport Information & Compliance Officer
While most people view a holiday break as a chance to kick back and relax, Markus Bratsberg of Capilano Blues men's volleyball spent his time qualifying to represent Canada at the 2020 International University Sports Federation (FISU) Games.
The Argyle Secondary graduate was up for training at 6 a.m. for much of the break and traveled to Toronto where the qualifier for beach volleyball was taking place January 2 to 4. Bratsberg and playing partner Aleksandar Borisov were flawless through the bracket, not dropping a single set on their way to earning the FISU berth.
"My initial reaction was disbelief," said Bratsberg, 19. "Everything I had been working towards felt accomplished; to do this for the first time is nerve wracking but also very exciting."
The victory was also a triumphant response to disappointment from two years ago, also in Toronto, when Bratsberg lost in the finals in the attempt to qualify for the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) U19 beach event.
"After that experience, I felt like I had something to prove to myself," said the human kinetics student. "When we first got (to Toronto), I was extremely nervous. It was hard to try and use those nerves to my advantage but after playing our opening game, I settled in and felt very comfortable for the remainder of the games."
Qualifying for FISU 2020 is no surprise to Blues head coach Dave Dooley who has coached Bratsberg since he was 16 in club volleyball and on provincial teams. Under Dooley's tutelage, Bratsberg has become an elite player and even made a successful transition from outside hitter to libero this season for the Blues.
"I could not be more proud of Markus," said Dooley. "Where others would potentially be discouraged (by previous setbacks), Markus clearly used it as fuel, and it’s fantastic to see his hard work and determination paying off. There isn’t a player more deserving of the honor to represent Canada."
This year's FISU Games are being held June 23 to 28 in Malaga, Spain. The beach volleyball venue will be in nearby Torremolinos.
"Representing my country and competing internationally is something I had dreamed of since I was young," said Bratsberg. "Until June, I will be training in the same time slot from 6 to 8 a.m. to prepare for the event.”
In the meantime, Bratsberg and Dooley are focused on the PACWEST season and the chance to advance to a national championship tournament. The Blues currently sit second in the PACWEST standings with a 10-3 record. They went into the holiday and exam break on a nine-game win streak and they'll try to extend that into double digits Jan. 11 and 12 as they host the College of the Rockies at CapU's Centre for Sport and Wellness.