Favourite Movie – Pitcher and the Pin-Up
Favourite Food – Pasta
Favourite Band or Singer – The Fray
Achievements – won the Provincials at U13 and U16 ; won the Nationals at U16; won U14 Beach Volleyball Provincials; led Brampton Centennial S.S. team to a ROPSA Championships last year.
In one word Teammates definition – Unreal, amazing focused (Brandon Koopers); Commited (Chris Adams);
Leader (Shaun Lasala and Joey Jarvis); Smooth (Nathan Murdock); Determined (Gabe Mawuto);
Overwhelming (Danny Ly); Devoted (Alex Stefaniuk); Unpredictable
Interviewed and written by Susana T Lima
Ricky Brar, 17 years old, started playing volleyball when he was in grade 6.
At that time he did not realize his own potential. Playing against 8th grade kids, he felt smaller and less prepared. Today, this young man from Brampton is the starting setter for Pakmen´s U18 team, the first ranked team in Ontario.
When you converse with him, you can feel the responsibility and the link that connects him to the other players. As a setter, Ricky is responsible for delivering a good ball to the hitter, deciding when and where the offense attacks. Volleyball changed his life giving him the opportunity to make new friends, but also to establish new goals for the future.
According to Kelly Smith, Ricky´s coach, his “dedication and work ethic inspires his teammates to follow his lead and try their best in practice. The guys like playing for Ricky because he is such a great person who treats everyone with respect. As a player “he has exceptional spacial awareness and plays well under pressure.”
Here are some notes gathered during a short conversation, where I had the chance to meet not only the player, but a nice, funny, calm and determined young man.
Who is Ricky?
I work hard on what I do. What needs to be done, I´ll do it.
Not afraid of saying anything.
Friendly, funny, I think…
How do you think your teammates see you?
I think…well I hope (laughs), they like me. I get along with all the guys. We hang out in practice and outside the practice, which is a good thing. I think they trust me both on the court as well as off it.
How was your life before Volleyball?
Before I met Kelly Smith, I think I was not as well-rounded … I was very academic and I really wanted to do well in school (…) I’m still very academic but more outgoing and confident. I don´t think I would have the same career path if not for volleyball.
How did Pakmen come into your life and how did it change it?
In grade 6. I tried out for the 14U rep team (…) I felt so small…I was playing against grade 8`s. So when I actually played against them I…(thought to himself) WHOA these guys are actually good! So I got caught from there, I got put on a grade 8 team. From there I was under Kelly´s wing and have played volleyball for him since.
So, Kelly discovered you?
Volleyball generally changed my life. Now I play school ball, I moved, went to a brand new school, I didn´t know anyone in the hallways, so when I heard about volleyball try outs…(thought to himself) let´s try this out.
What were the main difficulties you had to face when you started?
In the beginning, playing against grade 8´s was so much more technical, but as I got higher and higher and found out that there were faster people other than me…bigger and faster…keeping up with them was hard just for a setter like me. (…) I go to the gym a lot and I work hard all day. I work a lot before practice.
Is there any particular moment that you preciously keep in your memory as a player? An unforgettable moment?
That is hard…couple…not about me…It was Nathan Murdock, the big guy, a free ball pass…a teammate passed it to me and I told Nathan to run a play…ball is the air and Nathan ran it…goes up, no blocker, his waist is over the net and he just roofed it. The best moment ever…
If I was 10 years old and I wanted to start playing volleyball, what tips would you give me? Go and look for Kelly Smith?
(Laughs) Yes, I´ll get his phone number (laughs).
The most important skill I would teach you would be passing. The basis of volleyball.
Besides volleyball, what hobbies does the Brampton Volleyball player have?
It´s hard to have a hobby being here four times a week…but when I was little I used to collect coins. When I have spare time, I try to…but that´s like once a week. But if I had more time, I definitely would collect more coins.
How do you see yourself in the future? Do you want to be a professional volleyball player?
My dream since grade 7 was to be a volleyball player. I see myself like going to the olympics. Since I got older I think that maybe that dream is gonna be hard…but if I get there, I will have accomplished a lot. But I also have a plan B…being a physiotherapist. I´ll be happy both ways.