Otten, middle, wearing his signature opposite colour shirt.

PHOTO: Annie Arnone

Otten digging in deep

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By Brandon Buechler

Will Otten didn’t grow up playing volleyball – it just kind of happened.

Now the second-year libero is a key player on the Ryerson men’s volleyball team as it enters the playoffs as one of the top seeds in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA).

“Volleyball wasn’t very popular at my high school … we usually had just enough for a team,” Otten said. “My friend just asked me to come try out one day and it went from there.”

That school was Medway High School in London, Ont., just a 20-minute drive from his home in Delaware, Ont.

Football and rugby ruled fans’ hearts and hockey ruled the standings at Medway. Meanwhile, Otten quietly made a name for himself in the volleyball world.

After some time, a teammate suggested Otten take a turn at beach volleyball, which he says he enjoyed almost more than the traditional game.

“It’s more intense because you’ve got two players – you get more opportunities to make contact with the ball,” Otten said. “It’s a little more interesting and I enjoy it a lot.”

Otten balanced playing with his club, London Fire, while also playing beach volleyball with Volleyball Canada’s Fulltime Training Centre program before being recruited by the Ryerson Rams and head coach Mirek Porosa.

Now, Otten suits up for the Rams on the court while studying hospitality and tourism in the classroom.

“Will’s a great kid, one of our best players,” said assistant coach Chris McLaughlin. “I think he’s one of our team’s most improved players.”

There’s something to be said about Otten “improving” on his 2013-14 rookie season, where he led the team with 123 digs over 52 appearances, while the team went all the way to the OUA Final Four.

Otten describes himself as the steady player, someone who can be relied upon to do his job, be relaxed on the court and help guide his team to a victory.

After graduating from Ryerson, Otten hopes to play professional volleyball for “5-10 years” and then move into some kind of coaching role.

“I’d really like to stay in the sporting world,” he said with a smile. “It’s been my whole life for a while.”

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