by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Justin Delorme was tagged by his teammates with the nickname "Shaq Diesel."
The handle is borrowed from NBA legend and wide-body Shaquille O'Neal.
"It's because I am a big body (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) and it takes some time for me to warm-up in games," admits Delorme, a fifth-year right side with the Keyano Huskies men's volleyball team.
"During the (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) provincials last year (2017-2018) I had a slow start but once I got going...I was tough to stop."
Huskies earned ACAC silver, losing to SAIT Trojans 25-20, 26-24, 27-25.
The Fort McMurray, Alberta-based school would go on to capture bronze at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men's volleyball national championships in Victoria British Columbia, defeating the host Camosun College 25-16,22-25,11-25,28-26,15-13.
Delorme, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, would be named to the First All-Tournament Team.
Another reason Delorme may have a slow start, is due to the warm-up song he listens to prior to each ACAC match to assist with his visualization.
It is 2016 hit by Norwegian DJ Alan Walker, which has as its refrain: "Sing me to sleep now. Sing me to sleep. Won't you sing me to sleep now? Sing me to sleep."
No matter the case, Delorme has been anything but asleep during his five years in the ACAC.
After an all-star high school career at College Regional Gabrielle-Roy in Île-des-Chênes, Manitoba; he followed his club coach Dan Gilbert to Calgary where he was to take over the head coaching duties with the SAIT Trojans.
Playing right-side, Delorme had a decent rookie season in 2014-2015, while suiting up in 54 sets while accumulating 82 kills, 64 digs and 12 blocks for the Trojans.
In 2015-2016, Delorme, who also dabbled in badminton, basketball and ice hockey during his high school years, would manage only 28 kills and 3 blocks in 19 appearances.
For 2016-2017 it was a "change of scenery."
"I loved the city of Calgary and it is one of my favourite cities to be in. It is nicely laid out and to be close to the mountains and Banff was nice. Especially growing up in Winnipeg, where there were no mountains.
"But I wanted a change of scenery a little bit. I got in touch with (Keyano Huskies libero) Alex Sabourin as we went to high school together and he talked to me about Keyano and how good it was. I liked the fact that it was small classes and everyone lived in residence together. That way you get to know your teammates a bit better."
Delorme, enrolled in Business Administration, would have a standout Keyano debut with 2016-2017 ACAC All-Conference honours.
Statistically he appeared in 24 matches, 76 sets and had 147 kills and a team-high 44 blocks.
Teaming up with First team All-Conference Sabourin, Jakub Zdybek and Blazej Pellowski, who was also a 2015-2016 CCAA All Canadian , the Huskies would finish with a 22 match won 2 match lost 69 sets won 13 sets lost regular season finish.
They would settle for ACAC bronze, beating Delorme's former team the SAIT Trojans 27-25, 25-20, 25-18.
Last year Delorme was shifted from right side to middle.
He did not disappoint with 188 kills and 29 blocks in 62 sets.
Huskies regular season performance saw 21 matches won, 3 matches lost, 65 sets won and 22 sets lost.
"I just loved that team," recalls Delorme. "We had to overcome a lot of adversity with the accident (Zara and Bridget Chambers, 19, part of a set of triplets from Rocky Mountain House Alberta, were killed December 16, 2018 in a car accident south of Fort McMurray, They were members of the Huskies women's soccer and futsal teams) and a bunch of injuries with the team. We had only a handful of games where we had the starting lineup playing together. We had to aware of how we were playing and ourselves, which was good."
This year 2018-2019 the Huskies are ranked No. 3 in the CCAA Polls and sport a ACAC 14-team best record of 13 matches won, 1 match lost, 40 sets won and 9 sets lost.
Delorme, 22, leads the team in kills with 169 and is tied with Don Campbell (6-foot-7 , left side, 2nd year, Aboriginal Studies, Beauval, Saskatchewan) for total blocks at 25.
"This year I have ended up taking a leadership role with the team to take on more responsibility and it was a bit of a learning curve."
Of his future, Delorme replied: "I am kind of exploring maybe going to play pro volleyball overseas. Hopefully in France...that would be nice. Or perhaps move back home and get a job in marketing and then move up to management."