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Byam looks back on USports career; forward to pro career 

Posted on February 15, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Brylan Span

The end of an outstanding USports volleyball career is coming to an end this year for former Bow Island resident Chris Byam, but his future in the sport is far from over.

Byam has spent the last five years attending Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary. He has been a stalwart on the men’s volleyball team, the Cougars, since he arrived at the school. This season, Byam has been a standout player across the country, leading the nation in kills, as well as receiving Men’s Volleyball Player of the Week honours from both the Canada West conference, as well as from USports. Byam says that he is using the fact that this is his final season at MRU as motivation to succeed. 

“(I want to) prove myself one last time I guess to my team, to myself, to everyone else in the league, and show what kind of a powerhouse that I can be.”

Another reason for Byam’s exceptional season is his experience with the NextGen Canada team this past summer. While he suffered an ankle injury early into the training that kept him from training to his fullest extent, Byam says that his time with the team “enhanced me as a player and a person. Just constantly being around such high level athletes, there was always something to constantly be offered.”

His achievements have been a huge factor in the Cougars success this season, as the team sits at the top of the Canada West standings and are currently ranked fourth in the country. Along with Byam, the team has six other seniors. This chemistry and veteran leadership has the Cougars on track to have their best finish in USports.

“We have a really strong core of guys that have been around the program, been around each other for a really long time. So I think that just the standard in the team has kind of been raised this year of what we expect from each other, what we expect individually,” said Byam.

With playoffs on the horizon, and a potential berth to nationals in the Cougars’ sights, Byam says that the team is doing their best to stay grounded and focus on each game as it comes, “making sure we don’t get too over excited about finishing super high in the regular season, going into the first round, if we are playing somebody of a lower seed, not getting too over generous about it. Especially this year because everything is so close between every (team).”

When looking back on his time at MRU, Byam enjoyed the experience of being at a school which was “new to the scene” and becoming a contender in the USports landscape. 

“Going back to just some of the first year memories and then just kind of comparing it to where I am now. Like seeing the growth, not only that I’ve had, but also just being a part of Mount Royal in its growth spurt. I think just being a part of that, like the program and seeing how it’s developed has been pretty cool,” said Byam.

Byam recommends taking the USports path to anyone who has the opportunity. While having the ability to attend university at a cheaper expense due to athletic scholarships is his biggest reason, the personal connections and opportunities that have presented themselves outside of school are also a huge factor. 

“The friendships and connections I’ve been able to grow with sport has been very influential going forward and then getting me to national team stuff, going pro next year. A lot of that would be extremely tough without the experiences I’ve had throughout the five years at Mount Royal,” said Byam.

While finishing out his final year at MRU both on and off the court are priority number one for Byam, the excitement of playing pro volleyball is right around the corner. 

“I have signed with an agent, so they are kind of working on prioritizing some contracts, and just figuring out the best fit going forward to continue growth,” said Byam. With volleyball being the global sport that it is, there are countless possibilities for where it can take you. Byam said that his agent and himself are “prioritizing looking in France (and) Germany, as really good starting points, and they have really good systems in place for people to continue to grow, which is a big thing for me.”

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