THEY were once rivals on the court, but now they'll work together to bring home a gold medal at the 2013 Summer Universiade Games in men's volleyball.
Manitoba Bisons left-side hitter Chris Voth and libero Derek Nieroda will represent Canada and University of Winnipeg head coach Larry McKay will be leading the team.
The 12-man roster and coaching staff will head to Kazan, Russia, to represent Canada at the competition, which pits the best university athletes against each other from across the world.
"I've always had so much respect coaching against them at the university level," said McKay. "We talked about them when we'd prepare our Wesmen teams to play against them. We'd talk about how good this guy is and how he does this and how he does that."
Nieroda is making his first national team appearance and is going to be experiencing it with Voth, a teammate for over a decade. Both players completed their Bisons careers this season and the honour of representing Canada has been the icing on the cake of their university careers.
"Honestly, I can't even put it into words. It's kind of what I hoped for because the season didn't end quite the way I would have liked it to," said Nieroda.
The Bisons were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
"But making this team and representing my nation at the Universiade Games is quite an honour and even a bit of a shock," he said.
Tthe honour of representing your country never gets old, said Voth. Even though it's his second time representing Canada at the Universiade, it hasn't sunk in.
"Once I step on the plane I think it will become more of a reality, but I'm still kind of in shock right now," said Voth.