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Playing for his home team

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Nick Stewner has been served some proverbial ice cream with a cherry on top.

Not only will he be playing for the University of Manitoba Bisons, he’ll be playing in the place he grew up.

Stewner, 18, who grew up in Fort Richmond and recently graduated from Fort Richmond Collegiate, has been hanging around the Investors Group Athletic Centre with his mom, Bison Sports athletic director Coleen Dufresne, for as long as he can remember.

Garth Pischke, head coach of the men’s volleyball team, saw Stewner, a 6-foot-4 setter, play with his club team, 204 Volleyball in a tournament back in February. After the game he went up to Stewner and spoke to him about his future.

"I’ve known all the coaches for a long time, but never on a recruiting sports basis," said Stewner. "Now that he came up to me… I was kind of in shock for a second."

Stewner, who has also played hockey and basketball over the years, only started playing volleyball competitively in Grade 9. Stewner said he just took to the sport.

"Just this past year I played 204 Volleyball, and that was the first time I ever played actual competitive volleyball," said Stewner.

Becoming a rookie player and a redshirt (practice player) doesn’t faze Stewner though, and he looks forward to learning from his future teammates.

"I’m just going to try my best to improve and hopefully soon enough I’ll get some court time, but right now I’ll embrace being a rookie and being on the lower ranks and try to learn from everyone," said Stewner, who also received an offer to play in New Brunswick. "Mainly the setters who will be playing this year, I’ll try to learn some new tricks."

Stewner said being a redshirt will actually help him.

"I think that’s going to be my main drive to get better," said Stewner. "Because I want to start but I’ll have to prove myself to do that."

Stewner admits he’s a little nervous moving to a higher level of volleyball competition, but he plans on using those nerves in his favour.

"It drives you," said Stewner. "You get that adrenaline boost. In my opinion, I play better when I’m nervous. I feel like I jump higher and set better when I have a lot of adrenaline in my system."

After growing up around the gym where his mom worked, and now becoming a Bison himself, Stewner is one happy guy.

"That kind of tops the cake right there," said Stewner. "Everything is really awesome, playing and everything. But just being around here so much when I was younger makes it all the more special."

Stewner hasn’t quite settled on what he’d like to major in just yet, though he has some time to decide while he works through his first year of university. Right now, it’s all volleyball.

"Just growing up and seeing other (Bisons) play, and now to finally being able to be a Bison — it’s just kind of crazy for me," said Stewner.

"This is home for me."

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