By Shi Davidi
That piercing pop you’ve been hearing around the men’s volleyball team is their bubble bursting.
At the end of last season, they looked to be on the verge of becoming a national contender. What a difference a report card makes.
The Ryerson men’s volleyball team has lost four of its five acclaimed rookie starters. All-star Clayton Carimbocas and Ontario University Athletics Association East rookie of the year Rob Guenette flunked out of school. Andrew White was placed on academic suspension. And setter Jamal Thomas transferred to York to pursue a kinesiology degree.
Ryerson athletes must maintain a minimum 1.5 GPA to be eligible to play.
Six other players have left the team to concentrate on their school work. Captain Paul Carter, Tunde Tairu, Brian Forrest, Jesse Tsang, Kimmo Hamalainen and Mark Reid continue to study at Ryerson.
White, Carambocas, Guenette and Thomas were part of the Rams’ starting five of the future. Along with Mike Griffin, now officially “the man” on the team, the skilled quintet was to develop into a national championship contender.
The departures have ruthlessly ruptured the Rams’ starting line-up and bench. It will be a struggle to make playoffs this year.
“It’s disappointing,” said Mirek Porosa, entering his third season as head coach. “They never played to their talent last season. I thought we had created something special for Ryerson, a team that would play for national championships. We still have some good young talent this season and they will develop. But now we have to wait a year.”
Porosa blames both himself and his players for their poor academic showings.
“Academics has always been my first priority, but these are grown men who have to take responsibility. This year we’ll hope to get the academic information earlier, so if they need the time to study, I can give it to them.”
Trouble with marks is a first for the volleyball team under Porosa, but not for the athletics department.
Last January, the women’s basketball team lost star guard Miruna Muller because of poor grades and two years ago, men’s hockey lost three players at mid-season when they were put on academic suspension.
The athletics department offers several services to help their athletes, including free peer support and tutoring.
“We have an orientation with all our varsity athletes,” said Chuck Mathies, assistant athletics department head. “We urge all our students to take advantage of all the services on campus, but students will be students, athletes will be athletes and before it’s too late they’re in trouble.”
Guenette is now playing volleyball for Rutgers University in the U.S. White and Carimbocas are serving it up in Pro Beach “AAA” volleyball, the highest level in Ontario.