Conversation with a Ram

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Charles Vanegas sits down with Roman Kabanov of the men’s volleyball team

Generally volleyball doesn’t bring in the biggest crowds, how do you feel about that?

It gets frustrating at times. …What can you do? I wish Ryerson was more involved with sports. It’s great to see the people that do come out to games – they’re definitely true fans – but I wish we had a little more. At the same time, I just have to worry about what’s going on the court.

For those who have never made it out to a game, why should they come to watch volleyball?

It’s exciting – there’s a lot of action. We have guys that just fly and hit the ball. It’s definitely not as mainstream, but volleyball players are some of the best all-around athletes.

There’s one guy who’s always at the games! Tell me about “the fan”?

The fan! His name’s Jay. In my four years at Ryerson, I don’t think he’s ever missed a game. And he even goes to our away games – that’s how dedicated he is. Some guys play beach volleyball and he’s always there too. He’s the one that tells me about who’s playing who and all the results around the league – I don’t need the internet! He sponsors our team too. He’s loud, and after the game he’ll come up to us and pinpoint what we did wrong. He’s the true definition of super-fan.

Do you ever get noticed around campus?

In classes here and there. 90 per cent of the clothing I wear on campus is Ryerson gear, so I guess I do.

What do you spend more time on, school or volleyball?

We have practice every day for two hours, twice on Tuesdays. Plus weights. So volleyball ends up taking about 20-25 hours a week. I have 15 hours of class, but I’m trying to get into grad school, so most free time I get is for doing homework. It’s pretty close.

What are you going to grad school for?

International Economics and Finance. I think I want to do something in behavioural economics because I like psychology. It’s all about studying the behaviour of humans, like if X happens, what’s going to happen with Y. You can get into market research and analysis with that.

You sound really busy. Is there any time for a social life?

I have a lot of pressure on myself to do well in school, so to be honest: no. Not until the season’s done. But once in awhile I’ll go out. We usually just hang out with the team, maybe play Call of Duty. Some of the guys are ridiculously good, like Alex Dawson knows everything about it. Him and George (Sakvarelidze). I’ll get there.

What’s the best part of your game?

I’d say my offense. Blocking is pretty close though.

What’s the weakest?

(Laughs) Defence! I get subbed out in the backfield, but when I get a few digs I’m pretty happy about it.

You’ve changed your number from 12 to 1, what’s the significance?

I feel like it’s a new beginning. I’m more in a leadership role this year, so the change is just to symbolize that. I’ve grown as a person and as a player. Right now it’s about leading the young guys, just showing them the ropes and around campus. With volleyball, school, social life – I just wanted to emphasize that I’m here for them.

With all but three guys being first or second year players, how do you feel about the team’s chances?

In volleyball anything can happen. I think our chances are pretty good, and our aim is to at least make the playoffs. We lost a lot of key guys from last year, but I think our chances are better this year because the young guys are hungry.

Do you have any weird pre-game rituals?

I know a few guys brush their teeth before a game. I just drink coffee. I probably shouldn’t, but that gets me going before a game.

If not volleyball, what sport would you be playing?

Soccer! I played soccer for six years, basketball for four. But soccer is my first love. That’s why you’ll see me on the court before a game doing keep-ups.

So how did you get into volleyball?

It’s funny because I never wanted to play volleyball in the first place. Both of my parents played volleyball, but I got into soccer at an early age. When we moved to Canada (from Ukraine) I didn’t know anyone who played soccer, so I started playing basketball at lunchtime. When I got to high school, I met a setter from the team, and he encouraged me to try out for the volleyball team. I was really stubborn, didn’t want to do it, and just wanted to play basketball, but he really got me into it.

Who is your favourite Ryerson athlete to watch?

I like watching Björn (Michaelsen) from the men’s basketball team. I like his hustle, his heart. That’s the kind of player I like to see myself as – the guy that does all the little things to help out the team. He blocks a lot of shots, posts guys up. He’s just an all-around athlete. I saw him in the gym all summer, and he’s just got a great attitude about that sport.

As a fifth-year player, it’s likely that you’ll never play at Maple Leaf Gardens (currently scheduled to be ready in April) as a member of the Rams. How does that make you feel?

I’m kind of upset about it because that was one of my biggest motivations. I guess it’s not that big of a deal… but I was hoping to be part of that first year of volleyball players to step on the court there. I’m excited for the young guys coming in, you know. It’s a great chance for them.

In previous years, your teammates have grown moustaches for Movember. Will we see that again?

For sure, it’s a tradition. We raise money (for prostate cancer research), mostly from parents and friends who donate.

That’s when we look good. Some girls say they like it, but some of my friends say November is their least favourite month because of it. A few guys on the team have great moustaches, like Robby Earl.

Are you aiming for a specific style this year?

I’m going to grow a nice ‘stache, and connect it to my sideburns.

Is anyone going to be sporting a porn ‘stache?

George! George Sakvarelidze on our team is a model, so he can pull that rapist moustache off.

Finally, what is your dream?

To move somewhere overseas, have my own business and live on the beach. Hopefully have a pro volleyball career before that. That’s my dream so far.


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