Raising the Bar in Barrhead

Raising the Bar in Barrhead

Like many Canadian villages, towns and cities from coast-to-coast-to-coast, Barrhead, Alberta has produced its share of future NHL players.

But it is in this town of 4,500 that the sport of volleyball rules.

Jacob Deinum, Spencer Fisher, Bryan Fountain, Cole Knudsen and Max Vriend are just a few of the names that have gone on to play post-secondary men's volleyball in the last few years. Many of them were teammates in high school.

According to Fisher, a fifth-year left side with the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) NAIT Ooks, the town of "Barrhead is a pretty big volleyball community."

So is the nearby hamlet of Neerlandia, where Fisher first picked up the sport in elementary school.

"My parents pushed me to play all of the sports when I was young," recalled Fisher, now 22 years-of-age. "Swimming and hockey after school were fun to do."

Growing up sports

Sprouting up to 6-foot-6 during his high school days, it is surprising that Fisher never played competitive basketball.

"I was pretty big into skiing as a kid, so I never had time for the basketball team," said Fisher of his downhill adventures, which included trips to Marmot Basin in Jasper. "I watch quite a bit of basketball now...especially the Toronto Raptors...but back then at the end of the day, I enjoyed my skiing."

In his rookie year (2015-2016) with the Ooks, Fisher, who is currently enrolled in Bachelor of Applied Business Administration, had to pay his dues as he appeared in only 13 sets with six kills, three digs and a single block recorded.

In 2016-2017 he started to see more time on the hardwood with 80 sets while hitting for 216 kills, 21 service aces, 61 digs and 34 blocks.

The following school year 2017-2018, Fisher would only appear in 42 sets with 60 kills, 12 service aces, 23 digs and seven blocks.

Changing it up

The Ooks would advance to the ACAC postseason in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 but fail to reach the medal rounds.

For the 2018-2019 season, he decided to try his luck in U Sports, heading east to play for the Nipissing University Lakers located in North Bay, Ontario.

"I just wanted to try university volleyball," said Fisher of his decision. "It was a lot different than college (calibre) volleyball. The guys are bigger and faster, and the serves are a lot faster coming at you, and the hits are harder."

Returning to the Ooks for 2019-2020, he has had a break out year.

His stats currently read 13 matches, 50 sets, 162 kills, 33 digs, 13 service aces and 13 blocks.

The Ooks, with an ACAC North Division record of 15 matches won, three games lost, 49 sets won, 19 sets lost, are currently tied with defending champion Keyano College Huskies out of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Each side has 30 points.

Ooks are No. 11 and the Huskies No. 13 in recent Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association polls.

"The personal development I have seen...coming in as an undersized 18-year-old to where I am now...I have come a long way," replied Fisher, when asked what his volleyball highlight has been to date. "I have made a lot of good friends at NAIT and plan to hold on to that going forward."

With a pregame music list that includes: Domo Genesis, Roddy Ricch and Pusha T; Fisher has one year remaining in his studies, and then he will, "Have to see if a job is in place and then maybe one day play pro volleyball."