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"If I am better than the others how can you not take me to the team?"

2012-03-20
PL
"If I am better than the others how can you not take me to the team?" Photo from fivb.org

Dustin Schneider – Canada NT setter

How many setters who are shorter than 190 cm do you know? Going against the odds, talented enough to reach professional level, some midgets made their way among giants. In Poland first example would be Paweł Woicki, than two French, Pierre Pujol and Benjamin Toniutti.

Here is a guy who is not a household name in Poland yet, but soon you will hear about him, as Team Canada will play Poland at 2012 World League. Maybe he’ll be one of talents in our league in a near future. I introduce you Canada’s most talented setter, Dustin Schneider.

Volleyball town in non-volleyball country

Born in 1983, Dustin grew up in Brandon, a city in the Canadian prairies, in the province of Manitoba, where volleyball is second to hockey, a Canadian passion, almost an obsession. Dustin belongs to a generation that achieved something outside of Brandon. Since that moment more kids got interested in volleyball and started playing, joining teams at schools and then universities. 

However, volleyball is not so popular everywhere in Canada. They have only varsity tournaments, which postpone their players pro-debut to sometime after finishing school. Schneider started his pro career in Austria, in club called St. Augustine Sabres, then one year later he moved to Portugal, to play at SC Benfica, more known for their football team. He was playing in the French league for Chaumont Volley-Ball 52, but was not very lucky. He had to come back to Canada because of a knee injury and took a two-months brake. Now he must decide if he will come back to his club in French Pro B league or if he will stay in Canada to prepare for season with national team.

Best blocker

Despite his short height (182cm), Dustin surprises spikers from opponent team. During a match at the Portuguese Cup, which his team won, Dustin scored 12 blocks in one match. But the Canuck doesn't overrate his merits.

- That was not a very strong team - explains. - My coach laughed during the match one block after another. I'm not tall, I'm usually one of the shortest on the team, but every ball seemed to hit my hands and fall on the court. My coach said later that they will put this info on my profile, so everybody will think I am the best blocker.

Season in Portugal was the best for him so far. Team SC Benfica won the Portuguese Cup and finished second in the league.

- We had a strong team and all 14 players were good, we played well the whole season. Besides, I loved to live in Lisbon - says Dustin.



National team

Dustin made his debut on the national team in the summer before he started to play in Austria. Every year Canada is improving, coached by Glenn Hoag, stress the setter.

- He has great organising skills. Before he started working with us, everything was chaotic. Glenn put things together and we are improving every year. I hope we will continue this way.

Canada had a good outcome at last World Championships, in 2010, when they beat Serbia 3:1. For many people that was a surprise. In 2011 Canada qualified to 2012 World League showing superiority over Slovakia and Puerto Rico. Few weeks later, at NORCECA Championships, they won bronze medal, losing only to the eventual champions, the Cubans, in five-setter thriller. Dustin was awarded best setter. Next goal is qualification to Olympic Games, to be held in Puerto Rico, next May, facing powerhouses Cuba and USA.

- We have chance with both Cuba and USA. We have been never so close to them like now. We should have won already with Cuba in NORCECA semifinal, and if were not for some strong serving Cuban the result would have been different (Canada was leading 2:1 in sets, when in 4th set opposite Fernando Hernandez went to serve. His series of serves, done again in 5th set, helped Cuba win the match). USA is still favourite, but like I said, we have been never so close to both teams, so we can make it - says Dustin.

Team Canada hasn’t discussed yet about setting goals for World League, as they’re just enjoying the fact they came back to this tournament, which Canada participated for the last time in 2007.

- We are happy to be in this pool, because we know that both in Brazil and Poland volleyball is very popular, so we will play in full packed venues. And this is always a great feeling. Finland is also in the same pool.

A perfect setter

What are the habits of a good setter?

- Patience, willingness to learn, thinking during the game and seeing what's happening on the other side of the court - specifies Schneider. - You have to be patient, because some skills come with age and experience. I'm observing those older, experienced setters. It is also useful when, apart of creating play of your team, you can observe play of the opponent and use it as your advantage, which means you have to think and calculate during whole match. This is the most important thing for a setter. 

Favourite setters? Lloy Ball from USA and Vadim Khamuttskikh from Russia. Ball is creative, has a great technique and good physical abilities. The Russian is tricky and Dustin likes his style of play. He is trying to take something from them for himself.

Dreams

Dustin’s dreams are not different from most other players. Qualify to the Olympic Games in London; have a long and successful career; play in a strong league; and keep improving. He hasn't got offers from Italian or Polish league yet, to mention two of the greatest European leagues, but some teams were interested to hire him after NORCECA.

- My manager told me that few teams were asking about me, but I already had signed contract with my club in France. Club and coaches from Europe don't have easy access to materials about teams from NORCECA zone. This has a huge impact on the number of offers a player from the Americas can get. Playing for the national team and in international tournaments helps. If you play well, they can notice you, but on the other hand in this same tournament you have many talented players, more known. So even if they are worse, coaches have heard less about you and hire some other guy.

World League is a great opportunity to show skills, but this is not something to think about during a game.

- You just want to go and play your best to win the match, you don't think that someone is observing you and can offer you a contract - explains Schneider.

Stand out

This was never something planned, but somehow Dustin stands out in his environment. Born into a family where his father and brother played hockey, he played hockey himself, but when volleyball appeared in his life became his number one sport.

In volleyball, not only his short height, but also skills, stubbornness, persistence and confidence distinguish him.

- In every level of my career there were people who had been saying, "You are too short to play volleyball, try something different". I was always saying, "Okay, I'm short, which is important in volleyball, but if I am better than the others how can you not take me to the team?" - remember Dustin. He didn't give up and that's why he is in this place now. A great example that is worth fighting for something you love. 

- If I had listened to those people, I would not been playing volleyball today.

Dustin is very talented and an extremely stubborn athlete. Volleyball thanks him for that.


Author: Zuzanna Dulnik
Source: http://blokaut.net/aktualnosc/1032
Pictures: fivb.org

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Comments (4)

Zyta PL 6 years ago
+3
Hoag praises him a lot, saying he would not be able play this volleyball with other setters even if they are taller. Dustin is one of those smart guys, who always think during the game. Hopefully he will find club in the stronger league as he deserves to play in better one.
HCLT BR 6 years ago
+5
Dustin is a key player to take Team Canada to a higher level. Incredibly smart setter! I bet Canada will give the powerhouses a run for their money in the next Olympic cycle. Go Canada!
Joust CA 6 years ago
+4
Great Article! Wonderful to see an article about an awesome Canadian player! Hopefully Canada does well in world league and maybe even make it to the Olympics so that we can actually get a Canadian categorie in "Players" haha LET'S GO CANADA

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