Glenlawn grad happy to be back with Wesmen

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Tristan Arnold continues to go from strength to strength on the volleyball court.

And like so many student-athletes that lost irreplaceable time during a formative period in their careers due to the pandemic, the 18-year-old cherishes every moment on the volleyball court.

The River Park South resident and Glenlawn Collegiate alumnus has now found a home as part of a deep 2022 Winnipeg Wesmen men’s volleyball recruiting class, and he’s relishing the challenge. Officials say he committed to the Wesmen prior to going with Team Manitoba to the Canada Games and not long after capturing an U18 national championship with his club team, Junior Bisons.

As COVID-19 lingered on beyond 2020, Arnold felt the uncertainty that it brought about, and even questioned if he had a future in the sport — not least because of a lack of tangible competitive volleyball when the restrictions and protocols were at their highest levels. Now in his freshman year at the U of W, the six-foot-two setter is in love with sport again.

“So far with the Wesmen, it’s been great. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Arnold, who is majoring in kinesiology and applied health.

“I love the facilities and campus at the university, and it’s been a great experience so far. In the pre-season, I’ve been taking part in lots of scrimmages and really bonding with all the guys.”

Stepping up to the university level is so far proving to be rewarding and valuable experience for Arnold, as he continues to learn.

“Volleyball at this level really is a different ball game, as I’m playing with and against men now. There’s lots to learn from others, and there are lots of opportunities ahead of me to develop my game and refine my skills. It’s also been interesting to see how the guys have approached training and the season so far,” he said.

During his Grade 12 year, Arnold began to rediscover his love for volleyball, having found it difficult at the start of the pandemic when practices were fractured and highly restricted, and teammates came and went. As a busy student, Arnold had his schoolwork to focus on, as well as a part-time job and personal relationships.

“It’s hard to described now where my head was at then. I was working and going to school, and spending time with my family, friends and girlfriend. I sort of forgot about practice and didn’t feel drawn to going back to the game,” Arnold said.

But back he came, with a passion. And Arnold hasn’t looked back since.

“I’d go as far as to call it an addiction — that feeling you get on court, that level of competitiveness you feel and that drive to win. These feelings sort of flipped everything around,” he said, noting living through the pandemic has shaped him, as well as many of his contemporaries, a lot.

“When COVID-19 first struck, there were periods when there was no school, which was awesome at first,” he said, with a laugh. “But after a while I wanted to get back to school. I have so many things to be grateful for. Looking back, I’m now so thankful for the presence of my friends and family.”

On the subject of friends and family, Arnold is grateful for the support of his mom, Jennifer Keller; stepdad, Ken Bentley; sister, Julia Arnold; and stepsister Katreena Bentley.

In a news release from the Wesmen, the team’s interim head coach Rob Olfert highlighted Arnold’s distinguished high school and club career in the province to date, noting he’s played “a vital role on every team he has been on.”

“He has lived and breathed volleyball from a very young age, and this shows in his maturity, his work ethic, his understanding of the game, his dedication to the craft of setting and being a consummate teammate,” Olfert said.

In same release, Arnold’s high school coach Russ Harder said he was “an incredible all-around athlete at Glenlawn and an amazing leader and role model for all the athletes in the school.”

Go online at wesmen.ca for more information.

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at simon.fuller@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7111.

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